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Memoirs and Biographies of Those Who Broke Equal Rights Boundaries

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 07:00

When I think of social justice and equal rights, the first person who comes to mind is Martin Luther King.  But, we all know that he wasn’t fighting alone. His I Have a Dream Speech is one of the most familiar speeches ever heard, but, Congressman John Lewis can deliver a powerful and memorable one as well, as you will discover if you read March: Book Two. I’ve selected a few recently published memoirs or biographies by or about significant African-Americans, some more familiar to me than others. What they all have in common is a drive to excel and a belief in what they were striving for – something that will resonate with today’s readers of all ages.


Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (Young Readers Edition) by Misty Copeland (The 2014 edition has been nominated for YALSA’s 2017 Popular Paperback for Young Adults in the biography category)

This is a recently published young readers’ adaptation of Copeland’s 2014 memoir about her becoming the first African-American principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre history. Despite not having started dancing until age 13, Misty’s talent allowed her to transcend her rough home life. Her family didn’t have much money, and she had a series of stepfathers growing up. As her talent brought her notice, she became embroiled in a custody battle between her mother and her ballet teacher, leading her to go to court to petition for emancipation. She is also frank about the prejudice she experienced as a black dancer, including the belief by some who said that black dancers had no place in classical ballet. “This is for the little brown girls,” Copeland says, but her inspiring story will be embraced by readers of all races.

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly

The author’s father worked at NASA as did so many others in her community that she just assumed that “that’s just what black folks did.” She profiles four black women (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden) who during World War II, were hired as “computers” – or female mathematicians by Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, in VA under NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) – later to expand to become NASA. At a time when educated black women good in math were only expected to become math teachers, these women helped the U.S.’s successes in space aeronautics. Women hired at Langley were as good or better at computing than the men but few were classified as mathematicians because that would mean they’d be on equal footing as the men. Instead, they were classified as “sub professional” and paid less than the men. The Fair Employment Practices Committee under President Roosevelt had opened up job opportunities for African Americans, desegregating the work force during the war.

Dorothy Vaughan joined the NACA in 1943 and was the first to be promoted into a management position. Mary Jackson was the first black women to become an engineer at NACA. Katherine Johnson’s math skills helped put the first American in orbit around the Earth.  Christine Darden became an expert on supersonic flight and her groundbreaking research on predicting sonic booms continues to be used today. These women opened the door for other women to become mathematicians as a career. This book, and the adult version, are the basis of the upcoming film Hidden Figures starring Octavia Spencer (as Dorothy Vaughan), Taraji P. Henson (as Katherine Johnson), Janelle Monáe (as Mary Johnson) but doesn’t include a portrayal of Christine Darden because the film focuses on the years before she started at NASA.

Strong Inside (Young Readers’ Edition): The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line by Andrew Maraniss

This adaption from the 2014 adult version entitled Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South is the inspiring true story of Perry Wallace, the first black basketball player to play for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville from 1966-1970 during the height of the civil rights struggle. While playing against other basketball teams in the south during the turbulent 1960s, Wallace remained unflappable in the face of prejudice in places like Mississippi and Alabama. In Wallace’s freshman year, some other basketball teams even cancelled their games against Vanderbilt. What better way to limit opportunities for black players in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) than to deny their very existence. There were rule changes meant to maintain white dominance such as the fact that Wallace’s signature slam dunk was outlawed from college play by a committee of coaches and administrators. This forced him to become a better player by working on his other skills. Readers will be angry at the many aggressive fouls, and elbows to his face Wallace received by other players that he endured that went unchallenged by officials. Wallace valiantly restrained himself from retaliating because he wanted to make a lasting change. Readers will also be puzzled and outraged at the lack of support by Wallace’s coach and teammates, although Wallace believed they meant well, but didn’t understand what he was going through – and the culture of the time didn’t prepare the students and administration for what it would be like to integrate. As Wallace strove to meld into an all-white 1960s college team, readers in today’s racially uneasy times will be able to relate to what Wallace went through and the isolation and loneliness he experienced. He succeeded in paving the way for future black players on college teams.

March: Book One, Two and Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

March: Book One (YALSA’s 2014 Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens; YALSA’s 2016 Top 10 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults; YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound)

March: Book Two (YALSA’s 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

March: Book Three (Finalist for YALSA’s 2017 Best Nonfiction award; Nominated for 2017 YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels; 2016 National Book Award winner for Young People’s Literature)

Framed around his attendance at President Obama’s presidential inauguration in 2009, Lewis recalls his childhood that led to his participation first-hand in some of the most important events of the civil rights movement in graphic novel format. In March: Book One Lewis talks about how he was drawn to Martin Luther King’s vision of the way of protesting using nonviolence. He had read the comic book published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation called Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story that explained the basics of passive resistance and non-violent action as tools for desegregation (The young people in Egypt protesting in 2011’s Egyptian Revolution used King’s comic as a guide too). He tells of his experiences with the sit-in movement to desegregate the lunch counters in places like Grant’s and Woolworth’s.



As Lewis attends Obama’s inauguration, in March: Book Two he reminisces that he’s the last alive of the Big Six – civil rights leaders that included M. L. King, who were involved on the March on Washington in 1963 to fight for jobs and freedom for African-Americans and includes King’s I Have a Dream Speech, and Lewis’s edited speech he gave at the same time, as well as the entirety of the unedited one. This second book also covers the period when he and other non-violent Freedom Riders were beaten by angry racist mobs and then often arrested themselves. Powell’s illustrations effectively portray the violence and death that the Lewis and the protestors faced in a way that text can’t.



March: Book Three covers when he became chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) where he and other civil rights leaders had their greatest success in marching 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to fight for voting rights for all African-Americans, as well as equal protection under the law, and an end to police brutality (this point will really resonate with today’s young readers). This last book in Lewis’s memoir covers the Birmingham church bombing, the brutal confrontations between protestors and the police on Bloody Sunday, to President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. One of the most touching images in the last book is the card Obama gives Lewis at Obama’s inauguration that says “Because of you, John–Barack Obama.” These books are essential reading for anyone who wants to know what it was really like to be a part of the fight during the civil rights movement.

~Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Crystal Storm (Book Five in the Falling Kingdoms series) by Morgan Rhodes

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Resources for Social Justice and Disability

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 07:00

Previously I posted on Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities. I am back to share some other essential resources and sites to follow. After a divisive presidential campaign, where the elected official hasn’t been forthcoming on stances in regards to disability issues this has raised concerns in the disabled community. Ambiguity has led to a sense of uncertainty. When it comes to social justice we need to be as informed as possible and empathetic as possible.

In the last post I posted a video from Annie Elainey. Again, because she discusses so many great things. Here she discusses Disability Identity and Language:

As she discusses, individuals have their own preferences on how they want to be identified whether it is person-first (person with a disability) versus identity-first (disabled). She links to this article on the Autistic Self Advocacy Network that at the bottom has articles on both sides and some in between.

There are some other great Youtubers out there discussing their disabilities and issues around disability. That in itself requires its own post for The Hub. For now, check out these posts from Disability Now and Disability Thinking on Youtubers to follow.

The following is not a complete list of all the great websites out there talking about issues of social justice and disability. These are the few I have discovered that are excellent and to be paid attention: (in alphabetical order)

  • The American Association of People with Disabilities: Their focus is to work “to improve the lives of people with disabilities by acting as a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.” Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Their mission “seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which Autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens.” Follow them on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
  • The Body is Not an Apology: Their mission statement states that they believe, “Through information dissemination, personal and social transformation projects and community building, The Body is Not An Apology fosters global, radical, unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world.” Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Disability in Kidlit: They are, “dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. We publish articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective.” Follow them on Twitter, Tumblr, and Goodreads.
  • Disability Intersections: This is “a magazine with periodic installments on disability issues, viewed through an intersectional lens.”
  • Disability is Natural: Their mission is “to encourage new ways of thinking about developmental disabilities, in the belief that our attitudes drive our actions, and changes in our attitudes and actions can help create a society where all children and adults with developmental disabilities have opportunities to live the lives of their dreams, included in all areas of life.”
  • Disability Now: They seek to provide a “platform for debate and discussion of disability issues – a platform where disabled people voices are heard.” Follow them on Twitter.
  • Disability Thinking: This is a blog by Andrew D. Pulrang. He does a weekly round-up of articles, has a round-up of disability blogs and websites, and also does podcast about disability representation on television. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
  • The Disability Visibility Project: This online community is “dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture.”  They have community partnership with StoryCorps. Follow them on Twitter.
  • National Center on Disability and Journalism: The NCDJ is a resource that aims “to provide support and guidance for journalists as they cover people with disabilities.” You can read their piece on disability terminology. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The Mighty: Their goal is to build a community and create a platform “to tell their stories, connect with others and raise support for the causes they believe in.” Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

What resources did I miss? Please add them in the comments.

–Danielle Jones, currently reading Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching by Mychal Denzel Smith

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Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

Sun, 12/18/2016 - 07:00

When we talk about social justice, one of the most often overlooked populations are people with disabilities. The 2014 Disability Status Report for the United States from Cornell University reported that, “In 2014, the overall percentage (prevalence rate) of people with a disability of all ages in the US was 12.6 percent.” The National Health Institute of Mental Health reported in 2015, “Fully 20 percent—1 in 5—of children ages 13-18 currently have and/or previously had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.” These percentages are not reflected in publishing trends.

Representation of any marginalized groups accurately and sympathetically can remove some of the prejudice surrounding them, so including books and media with these characters in our collections is essential. Everyone deserves to see their experiences reflected, as well as studies have shown that reading literary fiction improves empathy. People with disabilities experience some of the highest rates of discrimination and microaggressions. Intersect being disabled with also being a person of color, First/Native Nations, LGBTQ, and/or female and the transgressions can increase. Activist and Vlogger Annie Elainey discusses here in a video Why is Disability Representation So White? #DisabilityTooWhite the many issues that people are experiencing because of lack of representation. (Also, be sure to check out her sources.)

Accurate representation can be a tricky thing, especially if it is not a story or experience that is being written by a person with a similar disability. In January, Lee & Low Books reported results of a 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey about the social makeup of the publishing and book reviewing in North America. In the industry overall, 92% identified as nondisabled, so we can assess that a good portion of the writing, editing, and reviewing books with disabled characters are being done by nondisabled folks. Alaina Leary wrote a great piece for The Establishment titled Why The Publishing Industry Can’t Get Disability Right that is also a must read.

Readers, writers, and advocates of young adult literature should be paying attention to the site Disability in Kidlit.

The team of authors at Disability in Kidlit state that they are “dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature. We publish articles, reviews, interviews, and discussions examining this topic from various angles—and always from the disabled perspective.” They are a go-to for reviews and to learn about some of the more problematic representations in books. They have their “Honor Roll” of titles that they “enthusiastically recommend.” You can also follow them on Tumblr, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tropes are one thing that popup up regularly in stories that have disabled characters. Tropes are literary devices that are “a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize.” (An example often seen in young adult fiction is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.) But as Kayla Whaley from Disability in Kidlit wrote, “tropes are some of the only representations of disability people see, which is very dangerous. After all, the media we consume greatly impacts how we view the world, so seeing these tropes only reinforces ableism and ignorance.”

When evaluating books with disabled characters watch out for these:

  • Characters used as “inspiration porn”: The website The Mighty describes inspiration porn as “a term used to describe society’s tendency to reduce people with disabilities to objects of inspiration.” This can be objectifying, and is often done so that the nondisabled have an emotional reaction, but still seeing disabled people as “other” and “less than.”
  • Along with inspiration porn is Disability-as-educational-tool. As s.e. Smith writes this is when “a disabled character is being used to educate other characters, give them some kind of motivation, or teach a Very Special Lesson to other characters and/or readers, that character is being abused.” Along with inspiration porn, it “reinforces the idea that this is the role of disabled people in society, to teach and educate the people around them, rather than to live as just another person navigating a sometimes complex and always diverse environment.” This can often come in the form of a disabled relative whose sole purpose of the story is for the main character to have a growth experience, or to serve as a foil to others characterization in how they treat them.
  • The Disabled Saint: as Kayla Whaley wrote for the Children’s Book Council: this is “the good little cripple, perfect in personality in spite of being wholly imperfect physically.” This creates a character that is often “innocent and pure and forever denied their humanity.”
  • Disabled Villian or Evil Cripple: TV Tropes writes that the disability  is often used symbolically “since a ‘crippled’ body can be used to represent a ‘crippled’ soul — and indeed, a disabled villain is usually put in contrast to a morally upright and physically ‘perfect’ hero.”
  • The Trope of Curing Disability: Marieke Nijkamp writes this is often “the characters are cured because they’re better than they were at the start of the book: kinder, gentler, braver. And finally, finally, they’re normal and whole.” Crystal Dennis on her blog Crystal Chats talks about how a major problem of this trope is that it says that “Disabilities are a problem that need to be fixed.”
  • The Damaged Disable Person: Kody Keplinger writes where “the disabled character is a brooding, broken character, scarred both physically and mentally.” This leads to a stereotype that disabled people can’t be happy or have complexity of emotions.

For vetted titles and problematic books reviewed, seek out the opinions at Disability in Kidlit. Also, the Schneider Family Book Award is another source for a select few titles as they award they “honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

–Danielle Jones, currently reading Rani Patel In Full Effect by Sonia Patel

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Equal Rights Through Fantasy and Science Fiction

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 07:00

Current events sparked a conversation about the disenfranchised in America.  Racism and sexism can be tough subjects to start with teens and a great way to begin is with fantasy and science fiction.  These genres often approach these topics using witches or another class of people as metaphors for real life disenfranchised groups.  If you are thinking about discussing our current political and social climate with your book club or classroom, consider the titles below.


Zen likes trains especially the rails in his alternate universe in space.  When a mysterious man named The Raven pays Zen to steal a box from the train of the emperorer, Zen isn’t sure if The Raven is evil or if it’s the government that’s evil.

Disenfranchised-Non Magical

Elli is the Saadelah, next in line to be queen, and has accepted her duty to serve and protect the Kupari people with ice and fire magic.  When her time to reign has suddenly begun, something goes tragically wrong and Elli is forced to hide in the Outlands with the thieves and murderers.  Her time in the Outlands is full of family, love, and a new purpose.

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemJK Rowling

Disenfranchised-Witches and Wizards

On a brief stop in New York City, Newt Scamander accidentally releases some of his magical beasts onto the city.  While trying to recapture his beasts, Newt; a nomaj; and two American witches find themselves on the hunt for an Obscurus who’s destroying the New York.


Forced to lay low Faith and her family are exiled to an island where her father mysteriously dies.  While looking for answers for her father’s death, Faith discovers a tree that may hold the answers she seeks.

Disenfranchised-Edians (Shapeshifters)

In an attempt to steal the throne from King Edward, Lady Jane is betrothed to a stranger who has a secret.

Disenfranchised-People with red blood

Mare Barrow is a Red-a lowly, uneducated, slave with disgusting red blood.  The Silvers are like gods because they have powers and their veins run with silver blood.  Mare doesn’t want to be drafted but she has no choice until a stranger changes her life.  She soon finds herself betrothed to a Silver prince and forced to maintain the oppression of the Reds.

Disenfranchised-Women and Grisha (witches)

Kaz, a member of the Dregs gang, has scored a big heist but he needs help.  He enlists five others to help him break into the unbreakable Ice Court to steal some precious cargo.

Disenfranchised-Half good witch, half bad witches

Nathan is the illegitamate son of the most evil witch in the land and is caged and beaten.  Finally freed from his prison, Nathan sets on a journey to find his father.

Disenfranchised-The Reds

Darrow is a red and a member of the lowest class.  He and the other Reds believe their hard work hard is for a better planet for their kids but when Darrow finds out he’s basically a slave for the richest class, he infiltrates their Institute to find answers.

Disenfranchised-Malfettos (Teens with special powers)

After the blood fever swept through the country, it left some children with deformities.  These children are called malfettos. Kids with special powers are called Young Elites.  Citizens are afraid of these malfettos and the special children, including the King, and he wants all of them dead.  The Young Elites have made it their mission to find other Elites and fight for the justice of the malfettos.


Breezy woke up from a shallow grave but that’s impossible because she was murdered.  Not sure what she is, Breezy travels the country looking for murderers until she encounters a church who can answer all her questions.

Disenfranchised-Muggles, Magic Kind, and Elves

Harry Potter is famous for surviving an attack from Voldemort and when the attack unexpectedly kills Voldemort, he stops at nothing to regain his body and seek revenge on Potter.

Dawn Abron is currently reading-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling


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Self-Care Resources for Teens

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 07:00

As part of our month of posts around the topic of social justice, today we’re rounding up some tips and resources to help teens practice good self-care. I am using the term “self-care” to mean general actions that an individual can take to maintain or improve their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Engaging with issues of social justice can bring up many difficult emotions, trigger or exacerbate mental health concerns, and otherwise prompt symptoms of distress. Stories and coverage of injustice, violence, and violations of civil and human rights are inherently troubling to encounter. Learning to acknowledge and manage this distress can help teens – and adults! – to not feel entirely overwhelmed when confronting issues of social justice. Learning to recognize our individual limits and needs, and developing ways to meet them, are critical tools against feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or consumed by anger, despair, or helplessness. I am not a health care professional, and self-care strategies and choices are highly personal; your ideas and feedback are encouraged and appreciated in the comments!

One critical level of self-care is taking care of our immediate physical needs: eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated, and, in an era of constant access to the media and the ability to binge on screen-time, taking time away from devices to shower, get dressed, and make sure we’re spending time off the internet.

Taking a few deep breaths, perhaps in sync with this viral and effective GIF, is also a first-line self-care action. These could all be considered self-care strategies to implement right-this-minute in the face of feeling overwhelmed. It’s just a little easier to face the enormity of social justice issues when you’re freshly shampooed and you’ve got going-out-in-public clothes on. Some resources to encourage good habits for these immediate needs: basic health guides (especially those directly addressing the teen years), cookbooks, etc.

The next level of self-care involves building in or learning activities and practices to help us feel centered, calm, and positive. These could include:

Exercise – Do you have great exercise DVDs or manuals in your collection? Perhaps you could highlight some magazines (print or digital) that include ready-made workouts. If you routinely have back-issues to purge, perhaps this could even be a program or project for teens to find and tear out workouts they like from to-be-recycled titles. You could even curate a page of YouTube video workouts.

Getting Outside – Does your collection have local walking or hiking guides? What about local parks, gardens, or other public spaces that might have maps, brochures, or other materials you could draw attention to? What about local plant and wildlife guides to foster an awareness and appreciation for what teens can encounter when they head outside in your area?

Yoga – Yoga is already popular with many teens, and can act as a form of both mindfulness and exercise, depending on the intensity. Does your collection include introductory DVDs and manuals? Does your local community center offer free or low-cost classes for teens that you could highlight?

Meditation – Learning to meditate (or even simply practicing intentional breathing exercises) can have a substantial impact on stress levels, and increase feelings of centeredness and resilience in the face of conflict or obstacles. Books on meditation CAN certainly be useful, but for many, learning to meditate and sticking with it really means having someone talk them through sitting in silence, especially for the first few sessions. Headspace is just one of many meditation apps, and like the other top-rated meditation apps right now, it offers limited free content and then encourages a subscription. But the free content (a 10-day intro with recordings to meditate along to) is a really user-friendly introduction. Do you have favorite meditation-starter resources?

Setting limits – The internet is an amazing and unwieldy place, and teens – and adults! – can benefit from setting clear limits around time spent connected online. RescueTime is a desktop and mobile program that will track how much time is spent on specific sites and apps, and includes the ability to send users an alert when their pre-determined allotted time is up. It’s just one example of how to get a handle on device connectivity. Whether the source of stress is homework piling up or a nonstop flood of negative headlines, setting limits around online activity can help teens reclaim time to disconnect and recenter themselves.

This is just a starter round-up, and we’d love to hear your favorite resources to encourage and support self-care for teens in the comments.

— Carly Pansulla, currently reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith

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Narrative Nonfiction with Social Justice Themes Part II

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 07:00

Previously, I shared a list of nonfiction that tackles issues related to social justice. But there’s not shortage of narrative nonfiction with social justice themes, so today I’m back with even more resources for teens These titles include biographies and historical nonfiction, and cover issues ranging from the denial of basic human rights in foreign countries or rape on college campuses. These books aim to share this information,  but also include  storiesthat can inspire action.  

Every Falling Star:The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju Lee (2016)

When is father loses his government job and abandons him, Lee struggles to survive with a gang of boys. This moving memoir showcases the hardships of life in North Korea In addition to fighting for basics like food and shelter, Lee and his family also live in fear of what would happen if they tried to escape the country. This book can serve as a jumping off point for discussions on basic human rights. 

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (2015)

Steve Sheinkin writes narrative nonfiction for every reader and his award finalist is no different. This book chronicles the lives of  segregated sailors working the docks in Port Chicago when they were charged with mutiny for refusing to return to work after an explosion. Sheinkin addresses the prejudice in the military, where men and women served their country but were also fighting for basic rights.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (2015)

Using Missoula, Montana as a case study in reported (and underreported) rape on its college campus, Krakauer shows how college campuses are mishandling rape investigations and failing to provide justice for rape victims.  

Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Modern Slavery by Abby Sher (2014)

A collection of stories from exploited girls around the globe puts modern slavery into perspective. Even in the twenty-first century, prostitution, servitude, and human trafficking all continue to thrive even with the continued effort of groups and organizations dedicated to their eradication. While the justice system tries to keep up with the law and prosecuting offenders when so much of it happens in the dark and behind closed doors.  

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling by Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer (2013)

The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the planet at over two million individuals. Jones and Mauer explain how sentencing policy, race, and the criminal justice system in the US have lead to this sobering statistic and discuss how policy changes that favor rehabilitation over punishment can create a more just society.

These are just a sampling of nonfiction that can prompt discussion of social justice. Do you have books you recommend to teens that touch on these issues? Share in the comments! 

— Alicia Abdul, currently reading Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss

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9 Books to Read If You Miss Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:00

Though the show aired one to two years before most of today’s high school seniors were born, Buffy the Vampire Slayer still has a cult following amongst fans of all ages. I have even heard a child in the children’s section of the local library singing songs from the musical as they browsed books. If you’re like me, a crazy fangirl of the show, you miss it immensely. It had humor, heart, and the characters became like family. It has such a huge following that it, thankfully, has continued in graphic novel form. Fans continue to write fanfiction, attend cons to meet the actors, and in general, keep the Slayer alive. Another way to do this is by reading novels that could easily be set in the same world, or that Buffy (and Giles!) would definitely approve of.

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The description of this novel even says it’s great for fans of BtVS. When I saw that I KNEW I had read it. I was not disappointed. The main character, Kali, is a normal human girl…most days. On every other day she becomes a finely honed weapon, a demon hunter. On these days she battles hell hounds, demons, and other monsters. On her human days, she simply tries to get through high school life. But when she discovers a student will die in 24 hours, she has to figure out how to save them…as a regular human. This was very reminiscent of BtVS in many ways: the setting, the action, and the dilemmas the main character faces. It also reminded me heavily of the season three episode, Helpless, where Buffy battles a crazed vampire, sapped of her strength. This is perfect for any fan of the show!

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This was one of the first YA vampire novels that I read growing up and it absolutely possesses that same gothic quality that many of the BtVS (and Angel) episodes contain. This tells the story of Risika, a 300-year-old vampire. It starts off in modern day where she appears to be living a quiet life, until someone from her past starts following her. The story is told in the present and in flashbacks, much like the episodes of BtVS telling the stories of Angel, Spike, Darla, and Dru. If you like a good vampire story, this is definitely one for you! The best part? It continues on in a series, which brings in witches and other creatures, much like BtVS!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

This novel is great for fans of BtVS because it has a strong female character, but she also struggles with the path that was chosen for her, without her consent. Kestrel is a general’s daughter and is expected to do one of two things: join the military or get married. Neither of these choices are what she wants and they are things she struggles with throughout the story, very much like Buffy in the season two episodes What’s My Line? Part 1 & Part 2. At the beginning of the novel Kestrel makes a hasty decision on her own, and the rest of the book (and trilogy) shows how her actions echo into her future. Also, if you like a brooding love interest such as Angel or Spike, this book has got you covered with Arin!

Sabriel by Garth Nix

I feel like this book does not get enough recognition for how amazing it is. Perfect for BtVS fans as it contains fantasy, humor, and goes to some fairly dark places. Sabriel, like Buffy, is pushed into a destiny out of her control. She is a necromancer, an Abhorsen, like her father. When he goes missing she must venture into the Old Kingdom, a world of magic, to find him. This novel is full of unexpected characters and twists, much like the show. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and could not put it down. This is another one that continues on into a series, which is still being written, so you get to spend a lot of time with the characters.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Though this novel is about vampires, they are not quite like the ones we meet in BtVS. The vampires in this novel are elite, but they are not powerful and strong. In turn they have dhampir to protect them. Dhampir are humans that have vampire blood running through their veins. Rose is a dhampir to her best vampire friend, Lissa. When Strigoi, vampires that never die, start to hunt Lissa, Rose must train to protect her friend. This is appealing for fans to BtVS because it has a strong heroine that must hone her strength and skills to fight off unknown foes. It also has a lot of interesting folklore and vampire history, much like Giles’s books. And if you love this, you have a whole series AND spin-off series to enjoy!

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

This is technically an adult series, but has high appeal to YA readers. Yelena is set to be executed, but is saved when offered a job as the food taster for the Commander of their land, Ixia. She is kept in line by the chief of security, who daily feeds her a poison and antidote. If she fails to return for the cure, she will die. While she works for the Commander, she discovers many secrets about her world. Yelena and Buffy are similar in that they have to be resourceful to get out of certain situations where brute strength is not the only answer. This series also has a great brooding love interest for the main character, much like Spike or Angel. It also continues in a spin-off series!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

A nominee for 2017’s Abraham Lincoln Award this novel (and rest of the series) is perfect for BtVS fans. Not only does the novel contain mysticism and mystery, it also has some butt-kicking female main characters. Each novel is told from the point of view of a different teenage girl that was marked by death himself and trained to be an assassin. These books have everything a BtVS lover is looking for: action, adventure, romance, and humor. I could easily see Buffy finding her way into this world, or somehow being connected to it!

MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

This first novel in a series harkens back to the first and second seasons of BtVS. Many of those episodes had evil baddies that showed up in one episode and were defeated by the end, but that did not make them any less scary. In this book, four friends attempt to summon Bloody Mary, but are unaware that her dark backstory has caused her to be full of rage. After summoning her they must be cautious at every turn while they attempt to lock her away. This is definitely a case that the Scooby Gang would have taken on while in high school as well!

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston

This story (a 2017 Caudill nominee) is as if Willow were to tell the story of Buffy. Siobhan is your typical high school student, when suddenly a young, up-and-coming dragon slayer starts attending her school. They quickly become friends, which in turn ends up with her becoming a part of his dragon slaying entourage, as his bard. Siobhan is more than his bard though, she helps him solve problems and accompanies him on many dangerous missions. This is fantastic for BtVS fans that enjoy the relationships between the characters. It is also great for readers who would like to get more of a point of view from someone that isn’t the main hero. Owen is also similar to Buffy in that he has to accept this legacy that was put upon him, but in turn makes it his own, and chooses not to go it alone.

These novels are some of my favorite for getting through my post-BtVS blues. Have you read any of these? Do you have any novels you would recommend to BtVS fans?

— Tegan Anclade, currently reading Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

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Narrative Nonfiction with Social Justice Themes

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 15:39

Just like the term literacy, social justice has many arms. And just like literacy, we can focus on pieces or the whole of the concept. In this post, we’re focused on narrative nonfiction and how people individually or collectively have pushed for equal rights. The books can be seen as a call to action or providing context for fights still happening abroad and at home.

People Who Said No: Courage Against Oppression by Laura Scandiffio (2012)

A collection of stories about revolutionaries from across the globe, Scandiffio explains why and how individuals or groups stood up for the oppressed and made changes. For The White Rose is was against Hitler, for Helen Suzman is was against apartheid, but there are more highlighted in these chapters. Their courage shows teens that revolutions have happened and continue to happen with the inclusion of the contemporary uprising in Egypt as its last entry.

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick (2014)

Read in conjunction with the adult biography Yousafzai wrote in 2013 and the picture book For the Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George and Janna Bock (2015) these three texts at varying degrees of interest and reading level, do not focus on the shooting that maimed her but on her family’s encouragement to be educated and to speak out against the Taliban and its oppression of women.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (2015)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a cultural icon with Halloween costumes and memes, but it is her career in politics and as a Supreme Court justice that proves how integral her voice, whether in agreement or dissension, has affected American policies and women’s rights. The book is a mix of biography, history, and politics that provide a look behind the curtain.

This Land is Our Land: A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne (2016)

With an in-depth history of immigration in the United States, the point is to show that American attitudes toward immigrants has always been complicated. These feelings ebb and flow based on a multitude of factors that Osborne clearly articulates alongside images and quotations from immigrants from the 1800s through present day. The inclusion of a summary, timeline, bibliography, and index are helpful for research, but it is an important read to understand the context of  today’s discussion about immigration.

March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights by Zachary Michael Jack (2016)

Social change starts with a step and for Rosalie Gardiner Jones who gathered a group of people to walk with her to Albany from New York City to win rights for women in the voting booth. There were many voices that contributed. Some we know well and others like Jones need accessible texts like this one that highlight the outspoken bravery it took to fight for certain rights.

-Alicia Abdul, currently reading Breakthrough! How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever

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Women in Comics: Princesses with a Twist

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 07:00

Tales of princesses are timeless and, generally, adhere to a host of tropes and conventions. These representations exist in comics as well, but the comics in this post all combine some of these tropes with a twist that modernizes the storyline and makes it far more thought provoking than more standard adaptations. Whether you are generally a fan of princess stories or not, the books here are sure to spark your interest and keep you reading.

Spera by Josh Tierney with art by Kyla Vanderklugt, Hwei, Emily Carroll, Olivier Pichard, Jordyn Bochon, Cecile Brun, Luke Pearson, Leela Wagner, and Matt Marblo – This story stars not one but two princesses! When Princess Pira arrives with news that her mother has killed Princess Lono’s father, Lono is thrust into a life of adventure that she never expected. Together with Yonder who can appear as either a human or a fire wolf at will, they set off for Spera, a place they have heard of in tales and stories. Along the way they encounter a variety of spirits, demons, and even a warrior cat. This volume includes four chapters and five short stories, all illustrated by different artists, which gives readers several different interpretations on the characters.

Part-Time Princesses by Monica Gallagher – Serving as a part-time princess at a local theme park seems like a pretty mundane job to friends Michelle, Amber, Courtney, and Tiffany. They are about to be seniors and have big dreams for life after high school. But, as those dreams start to look a bit farther from their reach than they thought and the theme park ends up targeted by a group of criminals, they discover a commitment to the park and uncover their true passions. This is a fun read about discovering your path, embracing responsibility, and growing up.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley with art by M. Goodwin – Princess Adrienne isn’t the standard fairytale princess. She is logical, blunt, and a bit of a tomboy. As the comic opens, she is a young child questioning a fairytale that her mother tells her at bedtime and this sets the tone for the rest of the story. When, after her 16th birthday she ends up locked in a tower guarded by a dragon, she quickly tells off a prince aiming to rescue her, chastising him for describing her as “fair” (as she is a person of color) and sending him off before saving herself with an assist from her dragon Sparky. This is just the beginning of Adrienne’s adventures with Sparky as she sets off to save her sisters from a similar fate. PrinceLess is a fun romp with colorful and engaging artwork. Adrienne is a strong heroine and the supporting cast is great as well. This book was included on the 2013 Amelia Bloomer List and was nominated for an Eisner Award.

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill – This story takes on many of the standard biases and assumptions that appear in fairy tales, starting with perhaps the biggest: why does the princess need to be rescued by the prince? As the book opens, we find Princess Sadie in a tower, but she isn’t looking for a prince to rescue her. And, in the end, it is Princess Amira who rescues her and their relationship continues to blossom over the course of the story. Along the way, O’Neill tackles body image, self confidence, stereotypes, and the challenges of finding a place and family for yourself. This is a very fun take on fairy tales that offers a fresh take on princesses.

Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler with art by Paulina Ganucheau – With a combination of dark humor and a princess determined to enjoy the pretty dresses AND be a hero in her own right, Another Castle delivers a fun princess story that turns many tropes on their heads. Along the way, readers get action, adventure, heists, and battles, all led by a princess who refuses to simple be married off to either a villain or a hero. Instead, she makes her own choices, fights her own battles, and protects those closest to her. Another Castle: Grimoire, which will be released early in 2017, will make you laugh out loud and keep you turning pages until the very end.

These are only a select few princess comics. Which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

— Carli Spina, currently between books

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Monthly Monday Poll: December

Mon, 12/05/2016 - 16:00


Happy December, Hub readers!

Last month we asked which Symposium-featured titles you had queued up to read asap, and the top five titles from a great group of books were: Caraval by Stephanie Garber, with 36%, Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston with 29%, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, both with 27%, and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo with 25%. We hope everyone found a few new-to-them titles to check out from the incredible group of books featured at the Symposium’s Book Blitz in Pittsburgh!

This month we’re asking what genre you’re reading the most of right now. Check whatever you use to track your reading for the last five books you finished, then tell us which genre the majority of them were. Notice, this isn’t a question of which genre you prefer, but rather what you’ve most recently completed the most reading in. Did the answer surprise you? Mine did!

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 Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

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YA Fiction about Overcoming Adversity

Sun, 12/04/2016 - 07:00

Teenagers choose what to read for a variety of reasons – topic, what their friends read, favorite author, or page number.  Often I am asked to recommend  books for a similar type of story, theme, or genre.  This is a collection of YA fiction that deals with overcoming adversity encompassing any trait, illness, disease, or life event.  In other words –  books portray life.  It’s a fitting topic for preteens and teenagers as they are not only facing obstacles in their own lives, but also developing their own thoughts and opinions as young adults.  

Every book where there is a new challenge, readers not only gain experience, but also courage to battle their own challenges and empathy towards others facing their own challenges.  The Wall Street Journal recently published an article showing how reading different types of fiction affects the reader’s behavior and ability to emphasize.  Here are some struggles in fiction, and here are some characters who are brave, vulnerable, strong, and overcome hardships.  In other words, characters who portray a diverse group of people.

Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (2015)

Maisie suffered from an electrical fire and has not only 3rd degree burns along her left side, but more significant damage to her face, which is missing her nose, chin, and left check. After waking from a coma, undergoing a facial transplant, she must heal physically, but also must process the mental and emotional aftermath of living her life with a new face. Maisie struggles with a new identity and if her family and friends view her as a stranger or if the “old Maisie” is still there at all.

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard (2014)

Set in 1995, this Prinz Award Nominee (2015) deals with the aftermath of a suicide by gunshot done at the high school. Emily transfers to a boarding school and tries to processes her ex-boyfriend’s death, she delves into their relationship and her own guilt. An added bonus to Hubbard’s writing is the comparison and insight to Emily Dickinson’s life and poems – Dickinson is the namesake of Emily’s new school. The interest in poetry as a form of expression assists our Emily as she processes Paul’s death. We (the reader) are gifted with poems from both Emily Dickinson and Emily Beam – classics and originals. It also covers the difficult process people go through in dealing with tragedy to heal and also develop deeper understanding to their own self-identity and how identities change and grow.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (2015)

Jessamy, a strong willed daughter who seeks adventure and freedom, and her sisters are constantly insulted and considered commoner’s in their family’s new elevated status. They are not the same as highborn, yet they are not commoners. If this wasn’t challenging enough, Jessamy is a free spirit who wants to compete in the games of the Court of Fives.  The Fives is part gladiator games and part Ninja Warrior with alternating challenges of strength and flexibility.  Jessamy finds a way to enter, but she knows she must lose for winning would bring shame to her father and family. She eventually must choose between her dream and her personal freedom or her devotion to her family.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (2012)

There are sort of three stories in one with this novel. First, is the narration of Astrid Jones’ 17 year old life. Her family moved to a small town from New York. The mom is a piece of work – judgmental and favors Astrid’s younger sister. Astrid is also secretly trying to figure out if she’s gay and afraid to let anyone know. The second aspect of this story is when Astrid lays on her picnic table in the backyard and imagines the lives of passengers as planes fly above her. We are given little mini-stories of passengers as Astrid imagines who is in the planes. But in a touching way for a girl who receives no real love at home, she passes love to these strangers thousands of feet above her whose lives she imagines. Back to reality, Astrid and her friends are outed (a raid on the gay bar in the city) and prejudice becomes more apparent in their high school. Astrid not only struggles with the small minded hatred, she has to decide whether to tell her parents the truth.  It’s a plot based on the labels of society and self-identification.

Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff and Laura Deluca (2012)

Poni is a child and this struggle of living in Sudan beings with her friend becoming a child-bride and then worsens as war invades her life. Life is challenging for women in her village, but the biggest challenge is once she and thousands of people begin their walk to flee the bombs. Finally, they reach the next village and the United Nations workers, but life doesn’t get any easier. This is a realistic view of the struggles of refugees and especially of the children impacted by war.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2015)

Ally is dyslexic, but tries to hide it. She hides her reading difficulty within her behavior and subsequently feels like an outcast. When a new teacher takes time to get to know Ally, she suddenly feels less alone. It is a touching story of finding your way when someone offers a little help and sees past the defensiveness and into the person’s true self. There are struggles, but it’s the touching ‘everyone is special’ message that readers will find between the student-teacher interaction.

All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (2013)

Judith is silent and is viewed more as a nuisance than as a family member. Her role in the tiny community is isolated and she is a presence only, not a friend or participant after a 2 year absence. You see, a fellow farmer and community deacon took two girls. After drinking his way into madness, setting his home on fire, one girl washed up the river dead, the other returned to her family missing not only two years of her life, but also half of her tongue.
We start with a one-sided love story between neighbors who live in cabins and live the simple life. With families that came together on a boat, they have been intertwined for years in Roswell Station.  As Judith returns home, she not only faces the questions and judgments from her community, but she struggles to go to school and learn to speak again. She is struggling to learn how to speak again, both in using her voice and in telling her story of the last two years.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)

You can tell it will probably be a fatal romance, but it didn’t keep me from rooting for those early bunt cake jokes between Madeline and Olly: two oddballs, but for different reasons who find a connection. Maddy is a deep character for many reasons – fatal illness, highly witty and intelligent, biracial, forgiving, and funny. As she realizes living her life to the fullest, even if it’s a short one, is worth it.  Madeline and Olly are awkward. Madeline questions her outfit to meet him, even though she only owns white shirts and jeans, and Olly, with his parkour, uses the control over his body when he can’t control his home life or Madeline’s illness. As Maddy loses her once held beliefs of other people and must adapt to new truths, she does a perfect amount of teen questioning. There are a couple of serious downers to this book, but some are realistic enough that it makes for a great story that one’s reality may not always be how it’s perceived

We Were Liars by e. lockhart (2014)

The story begins with a quick recap of various summers from Cadence’s younger days, but in “Summer of 15” an accident occurred, one that left Cadence with memory loss, migraines, and a loss of self. In the “Summer of 17” she is reunited with her ‘liars’ after missing the previous summer due to her parents belief she needed to heal. Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat settle easily back into their roles of summer teenagers with no responsibilities; however, Cady is determined to use her 4 week stay to get the liars to tell her the truth of her injuries. As the plot gets deeper into Cady’s lost memories, the pace picks up and that idle summer for rich kids quickly disappears to mystery, heartache, and family drama.  In the end, Cady must overcome her own guilt and learn to move on.

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat (2015)

Haitian parents announce their divorce to their teenage daughters and a car crash all within the first chapter.  While Giselle is in the hospital unconscious, she hears her visitors and tries to will her body to wake up. Finally she does wake to the realization that her twin sister is dead. The rest of the story is showing the family trying to cope and move on. When the police come to question the family stating the accident is under investigation because they do not think the driver who ran into the family’s car was an accident.  Once she is released from the hospital, Giselle must begin living her life minus her other half. This is a lovely story of friendship, love, and having to start over. There’s a little mystery thrown in, but the real beauty of this novel is the way in which love and heartache are portrayed.

What stories of overcoming adversity have resonated with you or teens you know? 

– Sarah Carnahan, currently reading Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

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5 Books to Read Based on Your Ilvermorny House

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 07:00

It’s Harry Potter season!  Everyone knows about the Hogwarts houses and most people have taken the sorting quiz but what’s the new American wizarding school all about and how do you pronounce it?  Ilvermorny (ill-ver-mor-ney) is where American witches and wizards go to study their craft.  If you’d like to learn more about the history, you may visit the Pottermore website.  You can get sorted into an Ilvermorny house on Pottermore while learning the character traits associated with each house.  After you get sorted, check out the following books that you may enjoy based on your new American wizard house.

Thunderbird House- Thunderbirds have soul and they attract adventurers.

Harper is a ballerina. She works hard but she can’t seem to be as great as her best friend.  When she comes up short on her dream, Harper decides to find her meaning of life on an Antarctican expedition.

Leila is on a road trip to see the Northern Lights and she meets four teens on her travels.  Although their time together is brief, Leila makes a deep impression.

Minn is stuck with her father and new stepmother in Mississippi.  When Minn overhears that her mother is ill back in her hometown of Ohio, she steals her stepmother’s money and hops on a bus.  On her way, Minn meets an attractive photographer, a homeless teen with Down’s Syndrome, and other nefarious people.

Zen likes trains especially the rails in his alternate universe in space.  When a mysterious man named The Raven pays Zen to steal a box from the train of the emperorer, Zen isn’t sure if The Raven is evil or if it’s the government that’s evil.

Blue Riley’s mother has died and her sister has run away. Desparate to find her only family, her sister, Blue makes a deal with the devil.  On a cross country trip to locate her sister, Blue encounters new friends, loves, and enemies.

Pukwudgie House-Pukwudie have heart and attracts healers.

Finch saves Violet and after becoming boyfriend and girlfrind due to a school assignment, Violet finds herself saving Finch.

At the end of WWII, Hanneke is a delivery girl in Amsterdam.  When one of her patrons claims that the Jewish girl she is hiding has vanished, Hanneke desides to risk her life to help locate her.

Hermione is cheerleader and on her final year at cheer camp, she is assaulted but doesn’t remember her attacker.  Determined not to be a victim, Hermione and her friends and family help her deal with her attack so that she can live a happy life.

While replacing the town’s water tower, a mysterious girl named Miel has fallen out of the tower.  Sam who is unafraid helps the girl find a home and they eventually become best friends.

Solomon has been agoraphobic since middle grade.  Lisa wants to get out of her town and Solomon is her ticket.  Lisa needs a subject for her college essay and Solomon is the perfect study.  Will her plan to befriend and cure Sol backfire?

Horned Serpent House-Horned Serpents are about the mind and they attract scholars.

Kestral is a Valorian and the General’s daughter.  Arin is a Herrani slave who is purchased by Kestral. Kestral has the gift of seeing lies but can she see Arin’s lies?

Darrow is a red, the lowest class on the moon.  He works hard believing he is making a better future for his family but when he finds out he and his people are being used for other purposes, he infultrates the higher class for answers and justice.

Sefia’s parents have been murdered and she’s letf to live with her aunt. After witnessing her aunt’s abduction, Sefia must follow the abductors to resue her only family.  In a world where books are nonexistent, Sefia is one of the few who can read. Along with her book gifted by her father, Sefia must use the book to find her aunt but she must also hide the book from the bad guys.

Juliet is the daughter of Doctor Moreau who has been exhiled from England for vivisection.  Determined to find him, Juliet sails to Australia with a handsome boy only to find her father in an unbelievable state.

Gottie is having a tough summer.  Her grandfather has died and she’s been dumped. Upon the unexpected arrival of her best friend from years past, Gottie begins to fall into black holes.  She must find out if she’s really losing time in black holes or if she’s suffering from a mental breakdown.

Wampus House-Wampuses are all about the body and they attract warriors.

In a world where there are no diseases, people must be “gleaned” to control overpopulation.  A scythe is the only person able to glean and while the perk of living for hundreds of years is an advantage; taking lives is the downside. Citra and Rowan have been chosen to apprentice as scythes and while neither wants the job, there can only be one and they must fight to be the last standing.

Sixteen years ago, the magical land called Winter was overthrown leaving eight survivors including the King and his apprentice-Miera.  Determined to win back her land, Miera goes into to battle only to learn that there’s magical elements and politics standing in her way.

Nyx’s little town is ruled by a demon who grants wishes that always has a catch.  Before she was born, Nyx’s father made a foolish wish and now Nyx must marry the demon-Ignifex.  Nyx has known of the arrangement since she was a child and her father has trained her to kill her soon to be demon husband.

Nadia lives in Caanan, a city that celebrates The Forgetting.  Every twelve years every citizen of Caanan forgets everything including their loved ones except Nadia who remembers everything. Nadia must race the clock before the next Forgetting to stop the horrific “celebration.”

What would the world be like if Hitler’s Aryan nation plan had succeeded?  It’s 1956 and Yael, a skinshifter, has been assigned the task of killing the fuhrer by entering and winning a motorcycle race.

— Dawn Abron, currently binge watching Atlanta on FX

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Libraries and Social Justice

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 07:00

2016 has been a year that has brought many important conversations about social justice to the forefront: Black Lives Matter, immigration, gender equality, the rights of indigenous people, poverty and economic inequality, LGBTQ rights.

Libraries across the United States have responded to these conversations in various ways, and within our profession, valid questions have been raised about the role of libraries in social discourse. How do we as library professionals preserves the objectivity of libraries as public institutions and ourselves as information professionals when the idea that free access of information to all is still a radical ideal?

The answer? By doing what libraries, librarians, and library workers do best.

We’ll create spaces that bring together different segments of our communities, but ensure that space is safe for all.

We’ll be inclusive and supportive environments for all of our marginalized patrons.

We’ll fulfill our mission to make everyone feel welcome and valued.

We’ll continue to provide information on these movements, causes, and issues so that patrons may educate themselves.

We’ll develop collections to help serve and reach and enrich underserved communities.

We’ll ensure that these collections contain a variety of viewpoints.

To this end, YALSAblog and The Hub will be sharing resources to help library staff work for and with teens for social justice during the month of December. YALSAblog will focus on programming, professional development, and advocacy, while the Hub will be focusing on collections and content curation. We’ll have 30 days worth of material focused on cultural competence, inclusivity, diversity, and equity.

Would you like to share the work you’re doing for and with teens related to social justice? How are you leveraging your collections to facilitate conversations with teens? What challenges are you facing? If you’re interested in sharing your story, please contact me at

—Molly Wetta, currently listening to The Mothers by Brit Bennett

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Booklist: Books for Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 10:03

Jenny Han’s heroine Lara Jean Song endeared herself to readers in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P. S. I Still Love You. In 2017 readers will get to read the highly anticipated last chapter in Lara Jean’s story Always and Forever, Lara Jean. This booklist will help fill the Lara Jean shaped hole in your heart during the wait until its April 2017 release.

(And, if you’re anything like me and consider yourself Lara Jean’s number one fan, you might want to check out these fan buttons I made to declare your allegiance online.)

If You Want a Book With Sensational Sisters:

  1. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway: Sisters April, May, and June rediscover their childhood powers after their parents’ divorce. April sees the future, May disappears, and June reads minds. The powers help them cope with a tumultuous year but could they also have a bigger purpose?
  2. The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman: When Katie’s family moves from New York City to rural Fir Lake, she expects to face all of the changes with her older sister, Michaela. But the harder Katie clings to her memories of the city, the more Michaela adapts to life in Fir Lake, leaving Katie to wonder what happens when your best friend starts to look like someone you don’t know.
  3. Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu: Missing her sister as she immerses herself in college life, Montana dives head first into a friendship with Karissa, an intoxicating girl from her acting class. Throwing herself into new relationships and trying to remake herself, Montana isn’t sure if she is losing herself or finding herself for the first time.
  4. The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson: Sisters Brooks, May, and Palmer don’t know how to cope with their father’s sudden death. Brooks starts drinking, Palmer focuses on softball and middle sister May is left to hold their family together. As the girls drift apart they each gravitate to their father’s 1967 Pontiac Firebird. The Golden Firebird might be a horrible reminder of everything they have lost, but it might also be the key to finally moving on.
  5. Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan: Josie can always translate the things around her into her own native language of Josie. But living a life in translation is exhausting–especially with her sister marrying an insufferable man. Love is found in many languages. With so many things around her changing, Josie is about to get a crash course in the true meaning of the word. 

If You Want a Book With a Sweet Romance:

  1. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2016 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2016 William C. Morris Debut YA Award): Not-quite-openly gay Simon is blackmailed into being the wingman for a classmate unless he wants his sexual identity (and the privacy of the amazing but still anonymous boy he’s been emailing) made public.
  2. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira: Unsure what to do about Dev potentially liking her, bookish Phoebe turns to the heroines in her favorite books for advice. But it turns out fictional romances don’t always translate well to reality. If Phoebe wants her own happy ending, she might have to figure out the answer herself.
  3. Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein: June and Oliver have seen each other around for years, an annoying side effect of their mothers being best friends. But they don’t get to know each other until the start of senior year when their mothers arrange for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Day. As they get to know each other, both June and Oliver will have to decide if young love has a place in a world where high school doesn’t much matter.
  4. In Real Life by Jessica Love: Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since eighth grade. They chat and text constantly. They talk on the phone for hours. They know each other better than anyone. But only online. After an impulsive decision to road trip to Vegas to meet Nick, Hannah has one night to get to know Real Life Nick and decide if she’s ready to risk her heart trying to make their friendship into something more.
  5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: Natasha believes in science and facts. Which is why it’s so hard to hope for a miracle on her last day in New York City. Daniel believes in poetry and fate which is why he knows the moment he meets Natasha that their lives are about the change forever.
If You Want a Book With a Love Triangle:

  1. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler: Vanessa Park is passionate about acting and loves being on set–even with her flirty co-star Josh Chester. Van’s happy to have her new career handler, Brianna, but unsure what to do when her friendly feelings for Bri become something else.
  2. A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody: Ellison Sparks has the worst Monday ever but she knows that with a second chance she could fix everything. But what happens when she gets seven chances? As Ellie tries again and again (and so on) to get her Monday right she starts to realize that the dream Monday she’s been chasing might not be so perfect after all.
  3. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: When she receives an email from someone (Somebody/Nobody to be more specific) offering to help make sense of her perplexing new school Jessie isn’t sure what to think. Is his offer genuine? Is it an elaborate prank? The potential for a new friend and some much-needed information win out. The more Jessie and SN email and text, the more she wants to meet him in person. But as she gets closer to discovering SN’s identity, Jessie also wonders if some mysteries should remain unsolved.
  4. The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder: In a year filled with changes and heartbreaks both small and large, Penelope will have to figure out how to move forward–especially when she knows exactly how fragile a heart can be.
  5. The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers): Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He’s smart, funny, and he understands her. He’s also dating her best friend. Sarah liked him first, but it doesn’t matter. She still likes him. That doesn’t matter either. At least, it’s not supposed to. The only problem is, it does.
If You Want a Book About Growing Up:

  1. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013 William C. Morris Debut YA Award): In a year filled with a lot of change and a lot of new things for both Amelia and Chris, this improbable pair will learn that friendships–and sometimes even more confusing feelings–can blossom anywhere.
  2. This Raging Light by Estelle Laure: Lucille is used to being responsible and she knows that if she takes things one step at a time she can handle anything. She can find a job, she can take care of her little sister Wren, she can make sure no one notices that their mother is conspicuously absent. But Lucille isn’t sure if she can do all of that while holding onto her best friend and maybe falling in love.
  3. The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart: The whole mess started with Finn. Well, technically it might have had more to do with Kim. But Finn is definitely involved. So is Jackson. And his four ceramic frogs. When it’s all said and done Nora, Cricket and Meghan are not speaking to Ruby. Kim isn’t either but that isn’t really a surprise. And that’s almost all before fifteen-year-old Ruby starts having panic attacks that lead to her eleven shrink appointments.
  4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2012 Readers’ Choice, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults): Anna Oliphant expected to spend her senior year in Atlanta with her friends. Instead her wannabe-sophisticated-noveau-riche dad has exiled Anna to boarding school. In Paris. Where the funny, charming, gorgeous Etienne St. Clair takes Anna under his wing. As Paris begins to feel more like home, Anna and Etienne have a lot of near-misses that bring their friendship to the verge of romance. Even while Etienne is very much still taken. But anything seems possible in the City of Lights. Maybe Anna and Etienne really are meant to be, maybe Anna will even learn some French.
  5. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults): Elise Dembowski has tried countless times to make herself better. Less different. Less precocious. Every time it’s been a horrible failure. Until one magical night when Elise wanders into a warehouse dance party and something finally does change. At the party Elise finds people who accept her; not some mainstreamed version of herself, not the invisible version or the fake one. Just her. In the midst of the party and the magic Elise also finds something almost as important: DJing.
If You Want a Book with a Baker:

  1. A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis: Lainey dreams of becoming a chef and having her own cooking show one day. With the lack of African American female chefs–not to mention vegetarian ones–she figures her odds of hitting it big are excellent. When her best friend (and crush) moves away, Lainey finds comfort in the kitchen as she works through new recipes and makes peace with the past.
  2. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg: Both Macallan and Levi are pretty sure they’re better as friends than anything else. Except they can’t help wondering if the complications that come with being more than friends might just be worth it.
  3. The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil, illustrated by Mike Lawrence: Alba loves living behind the bakery, drawing comics, and watching bad TV with her friends. Unfortunately Alba’s comfortable life is thrown into chaos by the return of a boy she used to know, complications with her best friend, and the flock of doomsday enthusiasts coming to Eden Valley for the end of the world.
  4. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler: Hudson gave up her ice skates for baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner after a betrayal completely altered her plans for her future. When she has a chance to start coaching the boys hockey team, Hudson will also haveto decide if she wants to start skating again on her own terms.
  5. Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood: Between moving, having no money, changing schools, and his father suddenly revealing that he’s gay Dan has more than enough issues without an impossible crush on the girl next door. Dan narrows all of his problems to six impossible things. With a penchant for making lists and following through, Dan is optimistic about fixing at least some of them–maybe even his mom’s wedding cake business that seems to result in more cancelled weddings than actual cakes.
Bonus: If You Want Another 2017 Release:

  1. Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan: Texan teen Piper dreams of leaving Houston far behind and attending art school in New York City with her best friends. Piper’s art might be enough to get her out of her stifling life at home, but only if she’s ready to take a chance on the unknown.
  2. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley: When Rachel moved away she left a love letter for her crush, Henry Jones, in his favorite book in his family’s bookstore. But Henry never came. Now Rachel is back in the city and working beside Henry, the one boy she had hoped she would never see again.
  3. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo: Desi Lee is a straight A student who knows CPR, car mechanics, and definitely has her application to Stanford well in hand. Love and flirting, however, remain a painful challenge. When Luca Drakos–probably the hottest guy ever–enters Desi’s life, she decides it’s time to improve her flirting game. And she knows exactly how to do it thanks to the Korean dramas her father loves.
  4. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Dimple Shah has plans now that she’s graduated. Those plans do not include playing along with her mother’s mission to find her the ideal Indian Husband. Rishi Patel believes in love and the tradition behind arranged marriages. He’s thrilled to have the chance to woo his future wife over the summer. Dimple and Rishi’s parents didn’t mean to start the arrangement when their children were so young, but how can they ignore the serendipity of both teens choosing the same summer program?
  5. By Your Side by Kasie West: What happens when the good girl gets locked in the school library for the long weekend with the bad boy?

— Emma Carbone, currently reading Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

The post Booklist: Books for Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before appeared first on The Hub.

Anime Club

Mon, 11/21/2016 - 07:00

Libraries all over the world offer anime clubs and the benefits are endless.  As a library worker, you are offering a space for teens with similar interests to meet and create new friendships.  Anime clubs provide opportunities to provide unique cultural experiences while never leaving town.  Anime clubs can also lead to other programs such as drawing, cooking, and using cosplay as a STEAM activity.

In the beginning, offering a monthly anime club was difficult because we were novices to this world.  We began by checking our circ stats to discover the most popular mangas and used those titles as themes.  Once we had a dedicated group of teens, we allowed them to facilitate their club and we offered support such as purchasing supplies and assisting with setup/clean up.  By allowing the teens to take over the club, they gained confidence and as a result the club grew in attendance and enrichment.

Anime Club

Below you will find a list of our most popular themes and activities.

Sailor Moon-This was our most popular meeting.  The teens watched Sailor Moon and made t-shirts using stencils and bleach.  We purchased a Crunchyroll membership with our Apple TV but you can purchase Crunchyroll online.

Pokemon-We hosted Pokemon several months before Pokemon Go but this was also an extremely popular theme.  Activities included a Pikachu ear craft, mini Pokemon tourneys, and Pokerap karaoke.

Studio Ghibli Movie Marathon-Teens tried Ramune and mochi ice cream while watching anime.

Dragonball Z-Teens learned how to make bobo tea and we had a scavenger hunt.  Someone hid a Dragon Ball while everyone watched the Superman vs. Goku video.

Attack on Titan vs. Tokyo Ghoul-Teens made buttons that represented which show they liked the most, they discussed/debated the pros and cons of both shows, tasted Japanese Oreos, and made eyepatches out of felt and yarn.

One Piece-Teens tried weird fruit and used the green screen to pose in wanted posters.

Made March-Teens watched Kaichou wa mai and Maid Latte Team. Teens also watched Youtube videos of people who visited the Maid Cafe in Japan.  The craft of the day was maid headbands.

Other Anime Club Themes:

Bento Box challenge-For the challenge, we supplied a variety of vegetables, fruit, rice, and candy. Teens had 60 minutes to make a Bento Box.

Christmas in Japan-We ate KFC because that’s what Japanese people eat on Xmas, and watched Christmas themed anime.

Valentine’s Day in Japan-The teens made chocolate cups and took pictures of Kabedon, “wall-pounding,” which is when a guy suddenly thrusts his hand against a wall, pinning a girl to it. It’s one type of situation that’s widely desired by various females and featured commonly in manga.

Manga Drawing 101-We invited a local artist to teach teens the basics of drawing manga and anime characters.

Field Trips-Many cities have Japanese grocery stores that sell all types of food, books, and toys.  If you have a store nearby, rent a bus and take a field trip.

Dawn Abron is currently reading-The Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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2016 Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Books for Teens

Wed, 11/16/2016 - 10:30

November 14-20 is Transgender Awareness Week and November 20 is International Transgender Day of Remembrance. Transgender Awareness Week helps raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and helps to address the issues the community faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day set aside to memorialize those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

This is a great time to highlight new books that celebrate the transgender experience. 2016 has been a positive in year in publishing as we have seen more voices from the transgender community, and more representation of transgender and gender non-conforming characters in literature. There have thrillers and romances, explorations of identity and coming of age, and books for younger readers as well as teens. Here are 11 titles published this year to note:

The Art of Being Normal By Lisa Williamson

Told through alternating voices, this British novels follows the story of two transgender teens. Leo Denton has just transferred to new school where he hopes to be invisible, especially as being transgender. David Piper hasn’t come out yet as Kate, and has only confided in two friends. After a couple of bullying incidents where Leo stands up for David, they fall into a somewhat reluctant friendship. After discovering what they have in common, the information gets out to the school, causing Leo to flee.

Beast By Brie Spangler

Set in Portland, OR, Dylan, who struggles with being abnormally big, and abnormally hairy, breaks his leg after falling off his roof. Since he is often teased about his size and hair, and at school called, “Beast,” this is seen as possibly not an accident, and Dylan has to attend a therapy group for self-harmers. There he meets the beautiful Jamie who he seems to see him for who he truly is. After he starts falling in love with her, he learns that she is transgender.

Being Jazz: My Life as A (Transgender) Teen By Jazz Jennings

Fifteen-year-old Jazz Jennings, a transgender activist, YouTube personality, and reality-show star memoir recounts what it is like to be a teen, especially a transgender teen, living a very public life. Since she was six-years-old and did a televised interview with Barbara Walters, both Jennings and her family have created a life of activism trying to support other transgender children and teens.

Girl Mans Up By M-E Girard

Set in Ontario, Pen Oliveira is the second child of conservative Portuguese parents who immigrated to Canada. Pen does not want to define herself too closely, but is “not into dudes,” looks and dresses like a boy, but finds that their are too many expectations with the LGBTQ lexicon as she identifies with being a boy, yet knows she’s a girl. She just wants to be who she is. Her best friend Colby has been acting like a jerk, especially to girls, but their friendship is really tested when she finds out he has gotten a girl pregnant and is trying to shirk any responsibilities. Pen finds solace when her crush starts to reciprocate feelings and they begin to work on a photography assignment together.

If I Was your Girl By Meredith Russo

This is an #OwnVoices book. Amanda has just moved to Tennessee to live with her estranged father after violent incident outside Atlanta where she was living with her mother makes her feel no longer safe. She is hoping for a new start, and only wants to fit in at her new school. Her father is still struggling with Amanda’s recent gender reassignment, making the homelife tense. She finds herself falling in love with the sweet and gentle Grant, and wants to share more about herself.

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity By Kristin Elizabeth Clark

After high school graduation, Jess, a transgender teen, heads out on a road trip with her best friend, Chunk, to crash her father’s wedding. The journey is one of self-awareness and self-acceptance for both teens.

Lily and Dunkin By Donna Gephart

At the start of their eighth grade year, both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known, only her father isn’t ready for the the transition. Dunkin, has just moved to Lily’s Florida town to live with his Grandmother, and would love to leave his old name “Norbert” and some painful secrets in the past. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Look Past By Eric Devine

This mystery/thriller starts with a murder. When Mary, the daughter of a prominent and very conservative local pastor is killed, her best friend Avery, a transgender boy, is forced to pick up the pieces. After, the murderer starts sending Avery threats that he, or his other close friends, will be next if Avery doesn’t repent for changing his gender identity. Now, Avery has to be braver than her ever thought.

The Other Boy By M. G. Hennessey

A book written for younger readers, but is one that teens will appreciate. Shane, a young transgender boy, has transferred to a new school and is just a normal guy. He loves baseball, graphic novels and hanging out with his best friend. He even has a crush on someone. But a bully at school is determined to find out why Shane switched schools, and this causes Shane anxiety.

Symptoms of Being Human By Jeff Garvin

Riley, a gender-fluid teenager starts a blog to work through issues of gender identity that quickly goes viral. Riley’s father, a prominent politician is in the midst of a heated reelection campaign, and it has Riley wanting to keep the blog on the down-low. Riley definitely doesn’t want anyone at the new school to know about it, but Riley starts to get some threats, some that might be close to home.

When the Moon Was Ours By Anna-Marie McLemore

Filled with lush language and magical realism, this is a story of two best friends turned lovers: Miel, a girl who grows roses from her forearms, and Sam who, who paints moons to hang from the trees. When the powerful neighboring Bonner sisters want Miel’s roses for themselves, and she tries to refuse, they threaten to tell Sam’s secret that he was really born a girl.

Here are more national resources for teens – look for local resources near you:

Also see these past posts for more resources:

— Danielle Jones, currently reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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20 Books to Inspire Social Change

Thu, 11/10/2016 - 07:00

Teen Tech Week is when libraries make the time to showcase all of the great digital resources and services that are available to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and 21st century careers.

Celebrate the next Teen Tech Week with the theme “Be the Source of Change,” March 5-11, 2017. 

Below you’ll find 20 books to inspire your teens, your programming, or your book displays.

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

The year is 2054 and decades of gender selection in India have led to a gender imbalance where boys outnumber girls 5 to 1. This makes girls a valuable commodity. A community of women tired of the unfairness of marriage decides to wall off a city and form their own country, Koyanagar. Here, young men compete for a woman’s hand in marriage through a series of tests. The story follows Sudasa, who must take her turn picking a husband, but she is unsure she wants to be a part of it.  In this reversal of gender roles and circumstances told through the alternating viewpoints of Sudasa and Contestant Five, readers explore important issues facing various cultures today.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints, All American Boys examines current social justice issues through the lens of several teens.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates

In a letter to his adolescent son, Ta-Nahisi Coates shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world and what it’s like to inhabit a black body in the United States.  Coates offers a framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis through his personal experiences.

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Fifteen-year-old Amadou and his younger brother, Seydou, were tricked into forced labor on a cocao plantation in the Ivory Coast. All they can do is try to survive, until the day Khadija comes into their lives. She is the first girl who’s ever been brought to camp. Every day she attempts to escape until finally, the bosses break her. Amadou decides that he must get free, for Khadija and Seydou. The three stick together and attempt to escape one last time.

Black Lives Matter by Sue Bradford Edwards and Duchess Harris

Black Lives Matter explores a brief history of Black lives in America and ends with recent events and the legal and social aftermaths touching on well known cases such as Michael Brown and Oscar Grant. The book highlights African American’s receiving harsher treatment at the hands of law enforcement and supports this with statistics. Black Lives Matter is a good way to introduce and discuss race relations and current events.

Citizen: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Through images, poetry, and prose, Citizen explores growing racial aggressions in the media and everyday life. From unintentional micro aggressions to blatant and intentional offense, racism is manifest everywhere, all the time. Rankine examines the individual and collective effects of racism in our current social climate.

The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition by Reyna Grande

This memoir begins with Reyna’s father leaving his family in a Mexican village in order to make a dangerous trip across the border into the United States. The father promises to return with enough money to buy the family a dream home but it seems he will never return. Reyna’s mother eventually goes to meet with her husband leaving Reyna and her siblings with their grandmother and ultimately the children have to fend for themselves. At last Reyna’s mother returns to send Reyna on her own journey to live with the man who left her so many years ago.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two characters can agree on a version of events.

I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban  by MalalaYousafzai with Patricia McCormick

I am Malala is a story about Malala Yousafzai’s life during the Taliban control of her region. The Taliban’s cruel and oppressive rule chafe against what she was taught in the peaceful Pakistan that she was raised in. The book tells the account of her childhood and continues into how she became an international symbol of peace for which she received the Nobel Prize.

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn

In this portrait of two Muslim sisters, Amelie Sarn weaves a tale of love, loss, and devotion. Sohane and Dejlila are high school students living in France. Sohane is devout and dedicated to her religion, while Dejlila dresses liberally and chooses not to practice religious custom. When Dejlila is murdered by a local Muslim boy for her liberal ways, Sohane is confronted by the conflicts between her religion and the society in which she lives.

Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools by Laurie Olsen and Rebekah Edwards

Laurie Olsen who spent two years at Madison High School where she interviewed the faculty, students, administrators, and parents to get an inside look at how immigrants need to become “Americanized” in this society but then are denied full acceptance because of how American society is. The book discusses the line immigrants must walk between losing their heritage to so-called multiculturalism assimilation and keeping true to their roots.

March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

March is book one in the graphic novel trilogy detailing the life and struggle of John Lewis for civil and human rights. Though it is mostly centered on John’s story, it also touches on other broader civil rights moments. Book one focuses mainly on his childhood in Alabama and how meeting Martin Luther King Jr. put him on the path to becoming a key figure to the Civil Rights Movement.

October Mourning by Lesléa Newman

Through poetry and various points of view, Lesléa Newman relates the events from the night of October 6, 1998. Twenty-one-year-old Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was lured out of a Wyoming bar, viciously beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Revolution takes place in the 60’s where the main character, Sunny, finds out that there are people coming down south to help with voter registration. She is very uncomfortable with this invasion of strangers and her family is not helping as they become more and more overbearing. Late night shenanigans get her caught up in an adventure where she must figure out where she fits in the world and what she wants to stand for in life.

This Side of Home by Renée Watson

This Side of Home follows the senior year of identical twins, Nikki and Maya, and is told from Maya’s perspective. Nikki and Maya have always been inseparable. However, gentrification and their reaction to the development of their neighborhood threaten to tear the two teens apart. Nikki is excited about the new developments in the area, while Maya is leery of all the changes. She thought her neighborhood was just fine the way it was, and she closes herself off (at first) to their new neighbors.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi, though poor, enjoys her life until the Himalayan monsoons wash away her family’s crops and she is sold to a brothel in India by her stepfather. She remembers her mother’s wisdom about triumph through endurance and she hopes for the day when she can reclaim her life.

Spirit of a Mountain Wolf by Rosanne Hawke

Spirit of a Mountain Wolf is the story of teenage Razaq Khan who lives in a Pakistani tribe that is hit by an earthquake. His family is killed and Razaq is left to fend for himself.  While trying to find his uncle, Razaq is tricked into slavery. When he is about to lose all hope he meets Tahira who gives him newfound strength to try to overcome his agonizing situation.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Riley Cavanaugh is a gender-fluid teenager who struggles with her identity. Riley creates a blog on the topic that goes viral and leads to an assault by a fellow classmate. Riley finds support in a new group of friends and finds courage to talk about her identity issues.

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

One night while her family is sleeping, fourteen year old Eden is raped by her older brother’s best friend. Told in four parts, through Eden’s freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior years, The Way I Used to Be takes a close look at the devastating effects of that night on Eden’s life and her relationships with friends and family.

The Word for Yes by Claire Needell

Jan, Erika, and Melanie are three sisters trying to get used to life after their parents’ divorce. The gap between the girls widens, until a disastrous night at a party when Melanie is date raped.  In an afterward, Claire Needell addresses the prevalence of rape and discusses rape prevention.

Megan Whit, currently reading Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Resources for Fostering Empathy in Your Community

Wed, 11/09/2016 - 18:41

As librarians and library workers who work for and with teens, everyone at The Hub is committed to fostering an empathetic community where all are welcome.

This is a round up of posts from the past year that promote tolerance and respect and celebrate people from all backgrounds.

— Molly Wetta, currently reading As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

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Monthly Monday Poll: November Edition

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 07:40

Hello, Hub readers!

This month we’re asking which books from the #yalsa16 Symposium’s awesome group of Book Blitz titles you’re hoping to read next. It’s a bigger group of options than our usual slate, so choose up to 5, and be sure to peruse the whole list for some fantastic reads from wonderful authors!

For more coverage of YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium, stayed tuned for some highlights up soon here at The Hub, and be sure to peruse #yalsa16 on Twitter; there were lots of folks tweeting out great tips and takeaways.

Update from last month’s poll: a full 73% of us are primarily reading library or personal copies of books that are officially published and out in the world, and the other 27% of us are reading a more even mix of advance/review copies and already-published titles. Literally not even one respondent was reading a majority of advance titles, and I have to say I think that says something *really* impressive about how fast y’all read once a book is out in the world!

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

— Carly Pansulla, currently reading Dune by Frank Herbert

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