Category Archives: YA Literature- Recommended Reads

#ReadYAlit discusses LGBTQ books for teens

LGBTQ Annotated Bibliography

I’m moderating #ReadYALit this Sunday at 8 pm CST where we’re discussing LGBTQ books for teens.

I don’t consider myself to be an expert in this genre- but know that’s important to add these titles to school library collections because I believe in the power of literature and connecting the right book with the right student (of any age)

Please join us to participate or to follow along live. Naomi Bates (@yabooksandmore) will post a storify of this chat here:

You can also sign-up to join be reminded through remind101 of this chat and all other #ReadYALit chats.

Q1 Why is it important to purchase/promote LGBTQ books in our schools/libraries?

Q2 What LGBTQ FICTION titles have your purchased/promoted?

Q3 What LGBTQ NON-FICTION titles have you purchased/promoted?

Q4 In what ways have your promoted LGBTQ books among teens?

Q5 When booktalking LGBTQ books, how do you feel about identifying LGBTQ characters or themes?

Q6 LGBTQ books continue to populate ALA’s Banned Books list. What can librarians do to prepare for/prevent a book challenge?

Q7 Any participants have any questions for the group?

Summer Book Club – #ReadYAlit -July 5


  #readYAlit  chat participants voted in a poll on June 7 and selected Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything for the first Summer Book Club title.

“Saint Anything is a poignant, honest story about how we might suffer the misfortune of someone else’s bad choices, how people who love us can become family when we desperately need it, and how starting over might – miraculously – mean taking a solid leap forward.” —Jodi Picoult

Read it and mark your calendars for July 5 at 8 PM CST. We look forward to a lively discussion and to choosing our August book!

YA Summer Book Club on Twitter – Kick-Off Sunday #readYAlit

Sunday, June 7
8 pm – 9 pm CST
Join Dayna Hart (@BookFin), Naomi Bates (@yabooksandmore) & Me (@DianeMankowski)

yalitchat summer

Question Preview
Take some photos of your summer stack and let’s talk YA summer reads!

Q1  What 1-2 books have you read recently that you would suggest to others as a “must” summer read?

Q2 Are there 1-2 books that you have been saving/looking forward to reading this summer?

Q3 What does your ideal spot to read a summer book like look?

Q4 What book would you take along to the beach?

Q5 What book would you take along on a road trip?

Q6 How have you encouraged summer reading among your students?

Which of these four Summer 2015 New Releases would you like to discuss on Sunday, July 5?

Please vote for our first Twitter YA Book Club Title!

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Links to Goodreads
A Court of Thrones & Roses by Sarah J. Maas
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

YA Book Recs and a Cool Poster Making Tool

In just a few days, we’ll host our first Author Fest. Thank-you Anderson’s Bookshop! Here’s our line-up and these books are worth checking out!

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Lex Thomas – Quarantine Series
Lex  Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies write together as Lex Thomas.

When a teen test subject infected with a bio-terrorism virus escapes from the government’s testing facility, he takes refuge in a high school. That virus kills anyone past puberty and within 48 hours all the adults are dead and the school is on permanent lock-down by the national guard.

Good readers and reluctant readers will both LOVE this series!



Madeleine Kuderick
Kiss of Broken Glass

After a friend turns Kenna in for cutting herself in the bathroom at school, she is sent to a mandatory 72 hour psych hold at a facility where she must confront her illness. Told in free verse.

Fans of Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins will enjoy this dark, realistic tale.



Len Vlahos
The Scar Boys

At age 8, Harry is tied to a tree by bullies and left out during a storm. When the tree is struck by lightening, he’s burned, disfigured and winds up addicted to pain medication. Life gets better in middle school when he and a friend form a band-The Scar Boys. An amazing coming-of-age story with its heart in music that so deserved its starred SLJ review and all the other accolades. Read it!



Frank Portman
King Dork

This one has been out for a while, but re-read it because its sequel King Dork, Approximately will hit the shelves in November.

Hard to describe because so much happens…but it made me laugh and so in my new genre-fyed collection, it’s housed in HUMOR because students will find this book above all else, funny!

“When Tom discovers his deceased father’s copy of the Salinger classic, he finds himself in the middle of several interlocking conspiracies and at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead people, naked people, fake people, ESP, blood, a secret code, guitars, monks, witchcraft, the Bible, girls, the Crusades, a devil head, and rock and roll.”  -from the publisher


I also made this poster to promote the event using Canva.
It’s free and web-based. Check it out!

Thanks to @ MaryYockey at Crone Middle School for sharing this site with me.


Illinois’ Teen Readers Choice Book Award (Abe)

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Looking for some great YA reads?

I have chaired Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award Program for the past three years and volunteered on the selection committee several other years. This readers’ choice award is sponsored by the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA).

I am a YA Lit Lover and Book Pusher, a term I was introduced to by my friends at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.

Some of my favorites are on this list and though Divergent and Fault in Our Stars were likely list toppers from last year’s list, I’m  not so sure when all the student votes are tallied which of these will be at the top of the heap come March 2015.

Here’s the 2015 Abe Lincoln High School Book Award List

Here’s a link to a PDF of all the author’s  and titles for this year’s list.

  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
  • The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • DJ Rising by Love Maia
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Hardin
  • Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
  • The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Sheperd
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Swim the Fly by Don Calame
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Unbroken by Laura Hildenbrand
  • Winger by Andrew Smith

E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars- What to read next…

E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars is by far my favorite YA summer read!


I found myself thinking today, what would I recommend next for students who love it too?

Matt DeLa Pena’s I Will Save You
This one has an unexpected twist that surprised me, just like Lockhart’s We Were Liars

I will save you

The story begins with the end-of-summer specatular silver-shimmering California beach scene brought on by the grunnion fish riding the waves to shore. Moments after the beach turns silver, one boy shoves another off the cliff, to what surely must be his death.

Kidd tries desperately to escape his tragic past and genetic death drive, beginning with running away from Horizon-the place he’s lived and received therapy since his mother killed his father and turned the gun on herself. Leaving Horizon, also meant leaving Devon, a friend who his therapist recommended he detach from.

Kidd had to push Devon off the cliff. He had to save Olivia. Kidd, an unreliable narrator, tells us the story by taking readers to the beginning of the summer, before Olivia wrote a song, before Kidd learned to surf and before Kidd followed Devon.

Kidd, Devon and Olivia are characters that stay with you long after finishing the final page.

Nora Price’s Zoe Letting Go

Zoe’s story, like Cadence’s is all about remembering the past…


Zoe knows she’s not sick.  She’s not like the other girls at Twin Birch, a mansion turned into a small group home for girls with eating disorders. She has to follow all their ridiculous rules, attend cooking classes, learn about protein sources when all the while she just wants to see her best friend Elise. But no one will let her. All she can do is write Elise letters.

Zoe is mired in her past, confused by her present and as her sad truth unfolds you will find yourself compelled to turn each page.

John Green’s Looking for Alaska

In Looking for Alaska, like We Were Liars is suspenseful…something big is going to happen. The chapter titles are counting down to it.


You can follow me on twitter: @DianeMankowski

Curating Booktrailers to Promote Reading

Jump Ahead to My Booktrailer Page, but i t may take a while for the booktrailer page that’s linked just below to load, so be patient. It’s pulling all the video content from 30 booktrailers into Scoop.It.

Scoop.It Booktrailers from Brake for Books


Promoting reading will remain important and as we prepare to deploy iPads  to all freshmen next school year on our path to 1:1. I’ve been testing ways to take reading recommendations  digital while incorporating social media tools.

This past year, I curated this list of booktrailers for students to watch in lieu of listening to a standard booktalk,  during our “Brake for Books” program that all sophomores attended. I have always booktalked the “Bestsellers” group. Instead I created the “Bestsellers” Scoop.It of Booktrailers. I’ll write about Brake for Books another time.

Scoop.it_I used to curate the booktrailers. I love because it pulls YouTube videos into its magazine style page. Students watch the videos on the page, so they’re not distracted by the latest music video, funny animal stunt or  sports blooper posted on YouTube.

Some publishers hire professionals, even actors, to create booktrailers, like this one- Half Bad by Sally Green.

Others feature the author talking about his/her book. My students laughed out loud at Kwame Alexander’s discussion of this YouTube video for his book Crossover.

Scoop.It-FREE (but limitations)
I warn you, though…don’t fall too deeply in love heartwith! Each FREE account can only create 2 topics and their purchase plans are way too expensive:  5 topics = $12.99 a month. Who has that kind of money in their budget? Sadly, they have developed this app for business. However, you can contact them about education pricing. Here’s the link: Scoop.It for Educators

Next year, when all of our freshmen have iPads, teachers will be able to share the link  through Schoology, our learning management system.   But, even if you’re school isn’t 1:1 or heading that direction, if teachers use a free LMS, like Edmodo, they can share it with all their classes there. Also, you could post it directly from the library web page or convert the link to a QR code and post that around the library. There really are so many ways to share these recommendations with students. If you have other ways to share, please comment!