My List of 18 Best YA Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s been a GREAT year for YA books!! I’ve read so many that were amazing, and I now have the daunting task of creating a list of the best.  The hardest part? Limiting it to eighteen (oh, the agony!!) But in no particular order here are my top picks in nine different genres I read based on recommendations and personal  choice, with a short one sentence review for each book, a recommendation for exceptional audiobooks, and a link to Goodreads.  Most of them are 2018, but there are a few exceptions for titles I missed in very recent years (haven’t we all done that? ūüôā

  1. The Faithful Spy: Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix. Abrams, 2018.  Graphic Novel/Biographical Narrative NF.  The reader gets to see the other side of WW II from the perspective of those Germans who wanted to defy Hitler with their will, solidarity, and faith in good that led to three almost successful attempts to end his reign of terror and to stop the war.

  2. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  Little, Brown, 2017.  Historical Fiction.  This book places the reader in one place (Tulsa, Oklahoma) but at two very different times and reveals the horror and destruction prejudice and bias can do to tear apart relationships and families.  **exceptional audiobook booktrailer
  3. Neverworld Wake by Mariah Pessl.  2018, Delacorte Press. Fantasy Fiction/New Adult.  Five friends venture into a world that is warped by time and their living dreams, and their actions will impact their future where only one will survive based on the decisions of them all.  booktrailer
  4. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton.¬† 2017, Random House.¬† Realistic Fiction.¬† The novel chronicles Adam’s struggle with schizophrenia along with a fresh start in a new high school, and with the help of a new drug, he begins to see improvement in his life until the drug begins to fail… **exceptional audiobook
  5. Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer.¬† 2018, Houghton Mifflin.¬† Fantasy/Horror.¬†¬†In Nita’s world, those with supernatural powers are curious to her while her mother knows they’re more valuable dead than alive and when the two clash over the next victim, Nita finds herself sold on the black market as a commodity with her life at stake.¬†¬†
  6. 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling.¬† 2018, Sterling Children’s Books.¬† Realistic Fiction/Mystery.¬† Gus lives in Nowhere, Arizona (the name says it all) and has to dodge the local bully and hide a secret crush until a date with a cholla cactus leads him on an impossible journey to make his life bully-free with a possibility of romance.¬†¬†
  7. Impossibility of Us Katy Upperman.¬† 2018, Swoon Reads.¬† Romance.¬† After her brother’s death serving in Afghanistan, Elise is adjusting to a new life when she meets Mati and where she also realizes she struggles with the prejudice her family has against him because of his Afghanistani heritage and culture and her love for him.¬†¬†
  8. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.  2018, Delacorte Press.  Fantasy.  Theodosia saw the fall of her country to a brutal dictator and is now forced to live in the castle as a tortuous example of triumph until she is approached as the last hope of their people, where she will have to make a decision of life and death for them and her.  **exceptional  audiobook  booktrailer
  9. Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman.¬† 2018, Simon and Schuster.¬† Survival Fiction.¬†¬†Southern California has reached Tap Out, where there is no more available water for the region and when Alyssa’s parents disappear trying to find water, she must navigate herself and others through danger from desperation and drought to survive.¬†¬†
  10. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family in Crisis by J.D. Vance.  2016, Harper.  Biography/Narrative NF.  The 34 year-old author writes about his childhood and the struggles of the poor white working class culture he grew up in where generational poverty and abuse navigated his decisions and relationships, which ultimately molded his life and success as a lawyer.  **exceptional audiobook   
  11. Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo. 2018, HarperTeen.  Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse.  Xiomara lives in the Bronx with  her twin brother in a very traditional family with strict expectations and with her growing sense of identity and physicality, which she chronicles in her poetry journal, a clash between both her personal and traditional worlds tears both apart. booktrailer 
  12. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman.¬† 2018, Penguin Teen.¬† Realistic Fiction.¬† In one single day, three teens are struggling with life that include a personal passion turned into a parent’s passion, the love of a boy, and the loss of a father, and they find themselves at the same place in Central Park where their stories are told and they help each other find the beginning of the paths they choose.¬†¬†booktrailer
  13. Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu. 2018, First Second. Biographies/Narrative NF Graphic Novel.  The author details the lives who brazen women (gasp!) that impacted history, but most importantly, about women whose lives are not nearly as spoken and written about as they should be and includes stellar ladies like Peggy Guggenheim, Agnodice, and Nzinga, to name a few.  
  14. Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein. 2018, Roaring Brook Press.¬† Narrative Biography/Graphic Novel.¬† This beautifully illustrated GN traces Mary Shelley’s life along with the joy, tragedies and very complicated relationships that helped her create one of the most recognized monsters of her and our time and opens up the reader’s awareness of how Frankenstein parallels a woman whose personal strength ran deep.
  15. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2108, Razorbill.  Realistic Fiction.  When a bridge collapses in Boston, four teens nervously sit in the hospital waiting room to find out if their sister, parents, and loved one survived and during the time spent waiting, their stories come out about the impact of those who hopefully survived the bridge collapse made in their lives.                           
  16. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics.¬† 2015 Harlequin Teen.¬† Horror.¬† Amanda’s world changes when she finds her family is moving to the prairie to escape harsh winters, only to find herself living the tales of nightmarish horrors she’s heard about the prairie, all while trying to protect her siblings and her hidden pregnancy. **exceptional audiobook
  17. The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares.¬† 2017, Delacorte Press.¬† Realistic Fiction/New Adult.¬† Every family has dysfunction, and this one is no different except that the siblings on both sides continue to have a strong bond beyond their parents’ divorce, the joy of an impending wedding celebration and the loss of life, all in a summer cottage and small town everyone grew up sharing.¬†¬†
  18. Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricial Hruby Powell.¬† 2017, Chronicle Books.¬† Historical Fiction.¬† Told in two strong alternating voices, this novel brings to life the civil rights case for mixed marriage in a time when segregation still reared it’s ugly head, and where readers in today’s world can see the implications of this landmark decision in the United States today.¬† **exceptional audiobook

Creative Archiving: Holiday Makerspace Projects with Weeded Books

‘Tis the season!  Time for gifts for family, friends and colleagues.  This is also especially true for students too!  But budgets can get tight when the circle of giving gifts gets larger.  And that’s where creativity (which is free!) and a few materials can really help.  And as I told my students, what better gift to give to a loved one than ones that’s homemade?

What I did for several past fall semesters is have students create things from weeded books.  They usually did a book wreath, but since than I have made several other things with weeded books.  Minimal cost, patience, and time.  So if you’re looking for ideas, here are a few you can do:

Book Page Christmas Trees:  What I like about these is that you can make them large or small, depending on what you’d like.  All you do is cute strips of paper with the same width and then cut down the strip halfway to make a fringe.  Roll it around a pencil to fluff it out and then hot glue it from the bottom up overlapping the strips as you go up.  After you finish, you can add little decorations and use an upsweeping motion to fluff it even more.  (the picture is one I made in 15 minutes)  
Resources: posterboard, weeded books, hot glue gun, scissors, pencil.  If you’d like something a little easier, try this idea for a simple weeded book Christmas tree

Book Wreath:  I don’t know how many of these I have made, but it seems like a million!  And the best part?  They all come out so differently!!  Again, size is what you’d like it to be and how you put the pages on (cone shapes, scrunched up paper, rolled shapes) is up to you.  The hardest part is cutting a template (which looks like a giant donut) but other than that, the sky’s the limit, especially if you’d like to bling it up a little!  The MOST creative one I made was with a comic book for my fellow nerd in arms teacher at my campus.  It doesn’t have to be just books.  My library assistant did one from an almanac for a friend who traveled a lot. (the picture are two I made for my house).  Here’s a link to a book wreath, including the template  Resources: template for book wreath, heavy duty cardboard, hot glue gun, pencil (to help glue the pages), and a ribbon to loop on back to hang it.  

Paper Ornaments:
This is going to be the one I’ll be making this year, as I haven’t tried it before.  Last year, I purchased a small white Christmas tree and instead of putting traditional ornaments on it, I’m going to do all different sizes of ornaments and hang them on there for a little white on white contrast. This creator is using scrapbooking paper, but book pages that have a little stiffness or thickness to it would work well.  If not, I plan on double the strips and gluing them together to make them more sturdy.    The link to this excellent tutorial can be found here

So there are three projects you can do with students and make someone’s Christmas merrier!  And if you need any more ideas, I have a BUNCH of ideas on a Pinterest board, so head on over there and see what else you can do with those weeded books!  

Happy Holidays everyone!!  

Alternating Voices: YA books with (multiple) perspectives

I’ve been a fan of alternating voices in novels.  It gives more depth for the reader and really allows them to connect with the characters because their personalities, conflicts, realities, and relationships show through their voices.  What’s even better is that we, as readers, become omnipotent and can only hope we could warn the characters what they’re getting wrong or right (but can’t!)

Here are a list of great YA novels with alternating voices. Includes author, publisher, genres and publisher summaries.

dreamland1. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. 2017, Little Brown Books.

Historical Fiction/Mystery

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations–both yesterday and today.

lies you never told me2. Lies you Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. 2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye-someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with-she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable-breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

impossibility3. The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman. 2018, Swoon Reads.

Romance/Realistic Fiction

The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.

When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact–Mati is Afghan.

i have lost my way4. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. 2018, Penguin Teen

Realistic Fiction

A fateful accident draws three strangers together over the course of a single day:

Freya who has lost her voice while recording her debut album.
Harun who is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved.
Nathaniel who has just arrived in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose.

As the day progresses, their secrets start to unravel and they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helping the others out of theirs.

snow and glass5. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. 2017, Flatiron Books.

Fantasy

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina.

Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

one of us is lying

6. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.  2017, Delacorte Press

Realistic Fiction/Mystery

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

after the fire7. After the Fire by Will Hill. 2018, Sourcefire Books.

Realistic Fiction (technically not alternating voices, but has before and after alternating chapters)

The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything–and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.
But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire.


pitch dark8. Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. 2018, Feiwel and Friends.

Science Fiction/Horror

Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard theUSS John Muirfor centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.

Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates theJohn Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.

When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide–literally–the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save theJohn Muir . . . and the whole human race.

thousandth floor9. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. 2016, HarperCollins.

Dystopia/Science Fiction

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole‚Äôs flawless exterior belies asecret addiction‚ÄĒto a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers‚Äôs job on one of the highest floors sweeps her in to a world‚ÄĒand a romance‚ÄĒshe never imagined‚Ķbut will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all‚ÄĒyet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

all we can do is wait10. All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson.  2018, Razorbill.

Realistic Fiction

In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital-

Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart . . . right when they need each other most.

Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right.

And then there’s Skyler, whose sister Kate-the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler’s everything-was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she’s at her weakest.

tradition11. Tradition by Brendan Kiely. 2018, Margaret McElderry Books.

Realistic Fiction

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and to keep the school’s toxic secrets, they are faced with a powerful choice: remain silent while others get hurt, or stand together against the ugly, sexist traditions of an institution that believes it can do no wrong.

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12. Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell.  2017, Chronicle Books

Historical Fiction

Richard and Mildred Loving were sentenced to a year in prison for marrying each other at a time when interracial marriage was prohibited by law in their home state of Virginia.

Their determination to be together led them to bring this case all the way to the Supreme Court where, in a landmark decision, the court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

The decision was followed by an increase in interracial marriages in the U.S., and is remembered annually on Loving Day, June 12.
This documentary novel vividly brings to life this inspiring story.



13.  Layover by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer.  2018, Crown. Realistic Fiction

FLYNN-At first we were almost strangers. But ever since I moved to New York, Amos was the one person I could count on. And together we were there for Poppy. (I mean, what kind of parents leave their kid to be raised by a nanny?) I just didn’t expect to fall for him–and I never expected him to leave us.

AMOS-I thought I was the only one who felt it. I told myself it was because we were spending so much time together–taking care of Poppy and all. But that night, I could tell she felt it, too. And I freaked out–you’re not supposed to fall for your stepsister. So I ran away to boarding school. I should have told her why I was leaving, but every time I tried, it felt like a lie.

One missed flight was about to change their lives forever. . . .

NSFW? YA Books That Have…

The beauty of being a school librarian is that you have a variety of readers in unique communities.  But along with beauty comes the part where books you may want in the library will possibly become a barrage of parental and administrative emails asking, “Why is this book in the library?”  Whether softly or loudly, this has been spoken to most of us.  Defending a book is part of our jobs as librarians and ALA supports us with their Freedom to Read Statement

Librarians also come in all types and perspectives.  There are some who don’t bat an eye at a book and will put it in the collection, while others may reconsider adding it because of content deemed too mature for particular audiences.  But still, we can’t read every book and often rely on others to help with information that may help.

So here is are list of books I’ve read that I think were ALL EXCELLENT READS.  Each of them contains a scene/scenes sexual in nature.   I am NOT here to create a booklist of challenged/censored books, so please don’t jump to that conclusion. In fact, I also added why I would recommend this book to teens/libraries.  So, for those out there who may want to know, this is for you.  And those who don’t really care if sex is a part of a YA novel, this is also for you.

34323570Furyborn by Claire Legrand

2018, Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Fantasy

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include School Library Journal and Booklist.  Is included on Goodreads Most Anticipated Title of Spring 2018 and Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Title of Spring 2018.  It was also listed on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

From this blogger:  I absolutely loved the way the author weaved together past and present, good and evil, and love and hate in a beautifully written fantasy book.  The world Legrand creates is one that doesn’t complicate, but creates a structure where readers will look for more stories to complete the picture. Looking forward to more novels to follow.  Recommended for HS

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Downtime by Barry Lyga

2018 Hatchette

Genre: Thriller

Link to publisher summary of audiobook (this is the format I used)

I couldn’t find any professional reviews for this.  It could be because it is in e-book and audiobook format only because it’s a short prequel.  I was eager to listen to it because I absolutely loved his Jasper Dent I Hunt Killers series.  This book is about his father, Billy Dent, and the beginning of his murderous killing spree as a super serial killer.

From this blogger:  One of my favorite genres, Lyga doesn’t disappoint with this prequel.  After reading his IHK series, he allows the reader a peek into the socio and psychopathic mind of Jasper’s father and creates a link for the reader depicting Jasper as an infant and the relationship that begins from the onset.

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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

2018, HarperTeen

Genre: Realistic Fiction; Novel in Verse

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include Booklist, Hornbook and School Library Journal.  This is a National Book Award Longlist title

From this blogger:  Acevedo is able to take the reader through the list of Xiomara trying to balance her families expectations against the cultural teen norms she wants to be a part of.  Diversity plays a huge role in this eloquent novel in verse and how society and culture play a crucial role in a young girl’s/teenager life.  HIGHLY recommended for HS.

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Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

2017, Random House Books for Young Readers

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Link to publisher summary

Professional reviews for this book include Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.  This book is also on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2018 list and is in post producation as a movie (release date unknown).

From this blogger:  Schizophrenia is a word people know, but very few really understand.  The journey Walton takes us on through the Adam’s diary to his psychiatrist (and postscripts by the doctor as well) shows the triumphs and difficulties of this mental illness.  The reader will walk alongside Adam through his ups and downs with medicine, family, and relationships, as well as a new school experience he must find his way through. HIGHLY recommended for HS.

31145130Shattered Warrior by Sharon Shinn

2017, First Second

Genre: Science Fiction; graphic novel

link to publisher summary (parent company)

Professional reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal.

From this blogger:  Earth is forever changed by the Derichets, intent on mining resources for their own gain.  Shinn does an excellent job of depicting that life and how societal structures have crumbled and the mighty have fallen.  Survival is tantamount serving the Derichets, but at what cost?  Resistance is critical, despite their past lives, where Colleen and Jann must make decisions together that could be the key to saving lives.  (sidenote:  there’s a boob shot in this one, on a single panel).  Recommended for JH/HS.

Amazing Library Ideas for K-12!

The best part of my job is being able to visit with librarians and talk with them about anything from programs to books and how I can help.  One of the benefits of visiting them is seeing the amazing things they come up with!  Library spaces should capture the heart of the reader, the creator, those who study, and those who teach.  These ideas help do that.  The best part of being a librarian is that there is always a willingness to share with not only their community, but beyond that.  Here are a few things I’ve seen this year that librarians have shared with me:

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This librarian at an elementary school took a couple of noodles and put them around a table to keep puzzle pieces on the table!  This could also be great with makerspaces that have lots of components and so many other things.
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Another elementary librarian added visual cues to popular chapter books to make them easier to find for kids by adding the book covers to the bins they’re housed in.
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This high school librarian took book ends and got her teens to paint a representation of their favorite book on it during Teen Read Week.
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Another high school librarian made shelves more interesting by putting some great folded book art at the end caps.
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A beginning of the year bulletin board not only had teachers sharing their favorite books, but they also got to know the new librarian better!
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I saw this at a high school, but it have universal appeal at any grade level.
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Encourage reading through sharing! Take some cardboard letters, decoupage book covers, add ribbon and clips and let students and teachers share their favorite books. This was hung right by the entrance/exit doors.
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This homemade art installation was made in the spring, but think about the possibilities for all seasons to liven up the library a little
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This wall is dedicated to sharing books through recommendations, including a starred review. Simple clipboards and supplies included.
If you want to get kids interested in simple makerspaces, why not do what this librarian (and co-blogger) did by setting out QR codes around the library to Youtube videos to create cool origami.

Gimme More Middle School Titles!

I have been thinking about expanding what I read.¬† As you may know, I absolutely LOVE young adult literature, especially targeting teens.¬† But then I thought, “Hey!¬† Wait a minute!!¬† Young adults aren’t just in high school!”¬† So middle school, here I come!¬† And here are two titles I read that made me REALLY enjoy reading middle school titles (and they made me laugh too!!)

24 hours24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling.¬† 2018, Sterling Children’s Books

The town of Nowhere is exactly located where it says it is in the state of Arizona.¬† It’s a town where “no” precedes a lot of things.¬† No one wants to visit it.¬† No thing really exciting ever happens.¬† But at the start of the day, Gus finds himself in a spectacular situation.¬† He is about to eat a cholla cactus.¬† No because he wants to, but because Bo Taylor is making him.¬† And it’s about to happen until Rossi saves him the only way she can.¬† She gives Bo her dirt bike in exchange for a life.¬† And the day keeps getting better.

Gus wants so badly to get that dirt bike back for Rossi.¬† The reason why is because he wants HER to win the next race with a huge prize involved and knows if Rossi isn’t it in, Bo will win.¬† In order to do that, he decides to find hidden gold currently found only in tales in the Dead Frenchmen Mine (emphasis on dead.)¬† Bo decides to send one of his buddies with him, and along the way Rossi decides to join.

And what happens in the mine in the rest of the 24 hours of that day….

Bowling writes a novel that contains both humor and the hard parts of life teens go through.¬† Readers will connect with Gus and his travails with bullying, his life situation without his parents, and his determination to make things right.¬† And that’s the beauty of this novel that will make you laugh out loud.¬† Everyone can find themselves in it.¬† HIGHLY recommended for junior high/middle school libraries.

 

sam wu

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang.  2018, Egmont, UK

Sam is ready to go visit the Space Center.¬† He has his Space Blasters suit on and can’t wait to be part of the fun.¬† Unbeknownst to him, the “fun” is already beginning to percolate for some of his classmates, especially with Ralph Zinkerman.¬† Once they get there, he dares Sam to take a ride in the Astro Blaster. And Sam, not wanting to look scared, does it.¬† But he comes out of the situation humiliated and with a new name – Scaredy Cat Sam.

Undaunted (well, a little), Sam decides to channel his inner space hero to prove he’s not scared.¬† That means getting a side-kick of the most unusual variety.¬† But it takes more than that, and Sam takes the big step of inviting his best friends over to help him achieve his goal (and show off his side-kick!)¬† He asks his family to make his favorite dishes for dinner when Zoe and Bernard show up.¬† And when they do, the humor is amped up!¬† Enter Sam’s sister Lucy, his grandmother, and the introduction of an Asian family’s culture to his friends who have never experienced it before.

And then add the ghosts!!

Katie and Kevin Tsang write such a gloriously wonderful book for middle graders by creating characters of all kinds and best of all, from all different kinds of backgrounds.¬† Add a great storyline with some equally great images, and you have the type of book that readers will flock to because who doesn’t like books with pictures AND humor.¬† This is going to be a great new series!! HIGHLY recommended for middle/junior high school libraries.