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Diversify YA Life: Islamic Mythology & Middle Eastern Folktales

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 07:00

Jinns have made a remarkable appearance in YA fiction in the last couple of years and with it comes diverse characters.

A Jinn is any of a class of spirits, lower than the angels, capable of appearingin human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil.

Below, you’ll find a list of YA fiction about Jinns.

When Zahara is released from her lamp she finds herself in a world where her magic is forbidden but when the King offers her permanent release, she must decide between freedom from the lamp or love.

This twisted tale changes one plot detail from popular Disney stories.  Whole New World asks what would happen if Jafar was the first one to summon the genie.

Azra, a Jinn, is evading her Jinn duties and masquerades as a human but when she discovers her powers are different from her Jinn friends, she must find out if her new powers will save or endanger her friends.

When Zayele is forced to marry a prince of Baghdad, she finds a Jinn and wishes to trade places.

Nalia is a powerful Jinn who was sold in the Jinn slave trade.  She’s stuck in a bottle and must grant wishes for her horrible Hollywood master. One day Nalia meets Raif who promises to free her but it’s a high price and Nalia isn’t sure she can trust him.

Amani lives in Dustwalk where nothing happens.  When her sharpshooting skills fails to aid in her escape, she finds a wanted stranger to help.

Islamic Mythology & Middle Eastern Folktales Printable Booklist

— Dawn Abron, currently watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown

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2016 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees Announced!

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 10:10

The moment is finally here! Here are the 2016 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees!

This year’s list of nominees features 26 titles that were published between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015.

The nominees are as follows:

  • Baker, Chandler. Alive. Disney/Hyperion.
  • Bardugo, Leigh. Six of Crows. Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co.
  • Black, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. Little, Brown & Co.
  • Boecker, Virginia. The Witch Hunter. Little, Brown & Co.
  • Brockenbrough, Martha. The Game of Love and Death. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Childs, Tera Lynn, and Tracy Deebs. Powerless. Sourcebooks Fire.
  • Cornwell, Betsy. Mechanica. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
  • Dinnison, Kris. You and Me and Him. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion Books.
  • Doktorski, Jennifer Salvato. The Summer After You and Me. Sourcebooks Fire.
  • Doller, Trish. The Devil You Know. Bloomsbury.
  • Heltzel, Anne. Charlie, Presumed Dead. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Kaufman, Amie, and Kristoff, Jay. Illuminae. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Laurie, Victoria. When. Disney/Hyperion.
  • Matharu, Taran. The Novice: Summoner: Book One. Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends.
  • Nielsen, Jennifer, A. Mark of the Thief. Scholastic/Scholastic Press.
  • Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Priest, Cherie, Illustrated by Kali Ciesemier. I Am Princess X. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine.
  • Schmidt, Tiffany. Hold Me Like a Breath. Bloomsbury.
  • Schreiber, Joe. Con Academy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Sedgwick, Marcus. The Ghosts of Heaven. Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press
  • Simmons, Kristen. The Glass Arrow. Tor Teen.
  • Stohl, Margaret. Black Widow Forever Red. Disney/Marvel Press
  • Stone, Tamara Ireland. Every Last Word. Disney/Hyperion
  • Westerfeld, Scott, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. Zeroes. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse.
  • Weingarten, Lynn. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
  • Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. Random House/Delacorte Press.

A full list of the nominees with annotations can be found at

Encourage teens to read the nominees throughout the summer so they are ready for the national Teens’ Top Ten vote, which will take place August 15 through Teen Read Week (October 9-15). The 10 nominees that receive the most votes will be named the official 2016 Teens’ Top Ten.

In celebration of the nominees being named, YALSA will be giving away 40 sets of the nominees through its 2016 Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway, generously funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Interested applicants can apply now through May 1, 2016 via this online form.

Learn more about the Teens’ Top Ten at

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International Stories in Verse for National Poetry Month

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 07:00

Books can allow readers to experience other parts of the world than where they live, exposing them to new cultures. Novels in verse can be an especially accessible way to access these stories, since the sparse, vivid language focuses on images and emotions, painting a picture of other times, places, and experiences.

These novels in verse tell stories of struggles from around the world, and are great to feature for National Poetry Month and year-round.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

A young girl in rural Haiti has a powerful dream of becoming a doctor. But can that dream overcome extreme poverty and a devastating earthquake? Her interest is in both traditional ways of healing and modern medicine, and her hope is to honor her brother who died as a child. This is an inspiring story beautifully told.

Caminar by Skila Brown

In this novel in verse, the horrors of the Guatemalan civil war serve as a backdrop for a young man’s coming of age. This can serve as a conversation starter for discussions on gender and war. 

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

In this beautiful novel in verse Margarita Engle tells us the story of the Panama Canal and the people who built it despite incredible hardship and cruelty. This history was unknown to me, and will likely be unfamiliar to teen readers as well.

All of Margarita Engle’s books are fantastic, so don’t limit yourself to picking up just one.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pickney

An inspiring and revealing story of a young Sudanese refugee’s experience. Poetic verse and captivating illustrations make this a great book to hand to a reluctant reader.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

In beautiful, sparse prose, Farish tells the story of a Sudanese refugee family making a new life in the United States. This is a long, hard, and ultimately hopeful journey of a young Sudanese refugee from a country terrorized by war to Portland, Maine, where cultural differences present a continuing struggle.

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Veda is an accomplished dancer, so when an accident causes her to to lose part of her leg, she’s devastated. This story is one of resilience as she learns to dance with a prosthetic and connects to dance on a more spiritual level. Teens can relate to Veda, who realistically experiences jealousy and frustration even as she’s determined to learn to dance again.

Do you have a favorite novel in verse that set outside the United States? Please share in the comments.

— Molly Wetta, currently reading If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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2016 Hub Challenge Check-in #11

Sun, 04/10/2016 - 21:02

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

I’ve been on a graphic novel and nonfiction streak.

I finally read Nimona, and thought it was a lot of fun. I’m not generally a fan of manga, but A Silent Voice was a great look at bullying and people with disabilities, and seemed to be a very sensitive portrayal of the characters. The teens in my library tend to be drawn to the fantasy and action-filled manga, so I was glad to familiarize myself with this title so I could potentially recommend something a little different to them. I was a big fan of My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, so I was excited to check out Trashed. I was surprised by how much research went in to it! 

I really liked Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and thought it was a great introduction to several topics legal history, and the graphics were really well done. It was great paired with Rad American Women A-Z, which introduced me to a lot of women in history that I wasn’t familiar with.

The only fiction I’ve crossed off my list is one audiobook. I listened to Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and it was enchanting! The narration and sound effects definitely added to the experience, and I think this is the perfect title to recommend to families looking for a road trip audiobook.

I’ve finished  11 titles for the challenge, so I’ve still got a way to go. I plan on reading some of the Alex Award winners, as past titles honored have really been great for me personally and great for readers’ advisory. I’m also excited to read Half Wild by Sally Green and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on Instagram, Twitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.What have you been reading for the challenge? What are you most excited to get to? Share in the comments!

— Molly Wetta, currently re-listening to Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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