May 2017 #YearofYA – American Melting Pot Pairings


Ever been to one of those fancy dinners where each course comes with a specially paired glass of wine? Or maybe a funky beer-and-chocolate deal (I know Tavia was supposed to go to one of these… I crashed those plans!)? Well, this month’s #YearofYA plan is something special – take our theme of “American Melting Pot,” find a YA book about immigration or culturally mixed families/neighborhoods or refugees, and PAIR it with a juvenile book companion! For example, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s about a girl (soon to be deported to Jamaica) and a boy (from a Korean-centric family) and how 1 day together can change the course of their lives. **Course… get it?!** While I loved this book, it’s definitely not appropriate for my elementary students, or my middle grade readers, or teachers who want a good picture book about families lives disrupted by deportation. Instead, I would recommend Gaby Lost and Found or Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote.  See! Melting Pot + YA + Juvenile.


Be flexible! Be creative! We all have different tastes *pun* so make your pairing according to what would interest you and/or readers you personally know! #YearofYA doesn’t really like working according to a strict recipe (HAH!) — invite others to partake in the feast if you know anyone who might be interested!  


Also, realized belatedly how apropo “Melting Pot” is for this theme. Cue the rim shot.


Alright, here’s some of our suggestions, but we encourage you to find and make your own pairings too!


Easy way out:

Read American Street For #2jennsbookclub (meeting:  5/11) and find a juvenile title to go with it.



28 Books About Growing Up in America’s Cultural Melting Pot

11 YA Novels About the Immigrant Experience

10 YA Books That Reflect the US Immigration Experience

Finding Home: Immigrants and Refugees in Middle Grade Novels


Some more of our favorite YA/MG/Elementary “Melting Pot” titles to mix and match:

  • Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (MG)
  • Emma’s Poem (EM)
  • Inside Out and Back Again (EM)
  • American Born Chinese (YA)
  • Dream Things True (YA)
  • Shooting Kabul (MG)
  • The Namesake (Adult)
  • Esperanza Rising (EM)
  • Brooklyn (Adult)

#YearofYA April 2017 – Life after HS

How many of you have purchased “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” for a graduate? How many copies do you think they received? It’s super thoughtful and Oh! so appropriate, but lacking on originality these days. Not only are there some other fabulous picture books you can hand out instead (if that’s your thing…), so why not a novel or nonfiction book to send them on their way to the next phase of life.

Young Adult lit has stretched it’s target age group. Kids as young as middle school and as old as, well… us, are picking up these amazingly written stories so naturally, authors are adjusting by offering “Middle Grade” titles and now, “New Adult” (which, IMHO has turned to mean YA+sex on endless goodreads lists when it really should be exploring many mature themes but whatever). This month we’re exploring LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL! Find a book set in the days, weeks, months or immediate years after high school and read away. Maybe it’s a couple trying to figure out how they’ll survive heading to two different colleges. Or a protagonist learning that coming-of-age doesn’t always happen before 18. Perhaps someone not bound for college, but instead trying to find their place in the bigger world.

March 2017 Ideas (2)

This theme is near and dear to me (Mollee) as my first manuscript is inspired by the ups and downs of life-after-high school. I’m currently querying it to agents so don’t hold your breath to read anytime soon, but I sure am anxious to hear what you find to read this month and discuss this timeframe with YA readers!

Here are some lists to get you started: {seriously limited lists so if you find any or, better yet, make your own, please share! I’ll work on one this month too!}


Our (ever-growing) #YearofYA list:

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • History is All You Left Us by Adam Silvera
  • Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

The Lonely Hearts Club #YearofYA Feb. 2017

Lonely Hearts Club

With a nod to The Office, #YearofYA is going anti-Valentine’s Day for February!

Ditch the traditional hearts, flowers, and love stories… let’s get gritty with the break-ups, the drama, the long-lost lovers.


Maybe you’ll need some tissues… maybe it will help heal your own broken heart… but this month #YearofYA challenges you to find the best Lonely Hearts stories to join OUR club!

If you need some suggestions, below are some lists and recommendations:




Mollee’s Picks

Would recommend to others…

  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Love Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Plan to read…

  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Tavia too, maybe this month)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Tavia’s Picks

  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

#YearofYA January 2017 – Stem & YA Lit

“Yes, they let women do some things as NASA, Mr. Johnson, and it’s not because we wear skirts, it’s because we wear glasses.”


Jan 2017 - STEM & YA Lit.png

We are so excited about the film, Hidden Objects, for the light it shines on history & women in STEM! Have you heard about it yet? Well, once you see the trailer, you’ll want to learn more about this inspiring women who played such a giant, yet untold role, in the Apollo missions. This Hollywood spotlight on STEM couldn’t come at a better time: when we need more of these skills a focus in our schools, and to recruit females to consider careers in STEM-related fields. The White House administration has been putting great emphasis on this, including 2017 plans in motion for initiatives like Computer Science for All. At the most recent Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, one of the NASA scientists, Katherine Johnson was honored. We need more Katherine Johnsons coming up in the ranks… and literature if a great way to show readers a mirror; inspire them to see what they’re capable of in the field of STEM.


This month, we encourage you to read books that fall under the STEM realm… it’s up to you to determine what that means! Sci-fi? Nonfiction about tech? A biography on mathematicians and other innovators? We hope to see you uncover a range of literature, share what you’ve found with us and with students, and inspire the next generation. Need some help getting started? Check out the suggestions below.


I’m sure most of you already follow Tavia, but be sure to watch her tweets closely. She often shares great articles about these fields on her Twitter feed, which might inspire you further on how to integrate more STEM in your teaching!



If you want to read up more on the back story, the Smithsonian magazine put out a great article:

I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends

2016 has been an interesting (read: challenging) year in many aspects. Truly, we wouldn’t get through it without the help from our friends.

There wouldn’t be any #YearofYA without Mollee + Tavia. And there wouldn’t be any #2jennsbookclub without Jennifer + Jennifer. BFFs are there for each other. Make ideas a reality. Cheer you on. Pick you up. Keep it real.

I (Mollee) had the amazing experience of going to YALLfest in Charleston, which is the best YA festival around. It’s casual, a great mix of signings and panels, and draws some incredible talent. (Perhaps I’ll write a whole post about it!) One panel I attended with a NEW friend — Hi Aimee! — was BFFs in YA with authors Sarah Dessen, Lance, Jesse Andrews, ??. First of all, I got a pic with my fave YA author, Sarah, whom I refer to as my TwitterBFF. She posts my thoughts 100% of the time. Pretty sure we’d be real BFFs if I ever got my books published… but I digress. They made some great points about the importance of accurately portraying friendships in their novels because romance nearly always has an expiration date, but friendship isn’t viewed with the same lens. So how does it stay sustained? What happens when the strain leads to break ups between besties? And the best question asked: who are you favorite YA BFFs?!

This Q stumped many of them!! Harry Potter was brought up… as was Perks of Being a Wallflower, TFiOS, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Of course, our favorite duo is Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, but they are real-life bad ass besties!!!

tina amy.gif


So to cap off our #YearofYA 2016 season, let’s celebrate the besties who see us through the good times AND the bad times. Find stories that focus on friendships…. because, as Leslie Knope would say:


Need a soundtrack?


Need some lists?

9 Novels for Teen Besties

5 of our favorite platonic Boy/Girl BFF stories

Best BFFs in books for Galentine’s Day  – Ok this is early, but still a good list!

Greatest BFF’s in YA

6 Perfect YA Friendship Books To Read With Your BFF

7 Great YAs About Best Friendship

Guest Post from BJ Neary

Hey everyone! Mollee and I have been so impossibly busy this past month. Because of this, we extended our September theme, Unapologetically Smart Girls, moving our chat date to October 4th. This means more time to read about our favorite leading ladies! We also decided that since we will be equally busy in October, we’re taking the month off and encouraging you guys to read all of the things you’ve been saving on your TBR lists! In lieu of a scheduled chat, we decided to ask our book buddy, the amazing BJ Neary, to write a guest blog post with some of her favorite YA titles. Below you will find her post. It’s fabulous and packed with great suggestions. Have an awesome month of reading all things YA, and we will announce our November theme soon!

BJ Neary
Retired HS Librarian – Abington Senior High, Abington, PA

I am so happy that my book-loving librarian friends, Mollee and Tavia, founders of #yearofya, the virtual Twitter book chat that I so look forward to and participate in monthly, asked me to be a guest blogger!  As I began to think about what I most ENJOY RIGHT NOW in YA literature and looked at my Goodreads bookshelves, I realized I have been totally hooked on YA SERIES fiction for years now and wanted to share (1) my CURRENT favorites, (2) series books not to be missed, (3) amazing audiobook series and (4) NEW series I am SO looking forward to jumping into (I want your recommendations too!)

What I relish in any series is that they can be any genre; authors build believable and fantastical worlds and craft strong, authentic characters that readers can relate to and cannot wait to explore and enjoy in more than one book. To satisfy my cravings for the next sizzling series sequel, I preorder the next book in the series either for my Kindle, order hard copy from Amazon or for my listening pleasure on Audible.  Afterward, I excitedly look forward to discussing the sequels and series with my friends.  Since I curate Young Adult Novels on, I cannot wait to read reviews from bloggers and other publications like SLJ and Booklist for their recommendations concerning these new releases.

How do I keep track of all the series?  I use Goodreads and I just love free FictFact because there are several ways to find your favorite series: Browse by Series, Browse by Author, Popular Series Overall, Most Popular by Genre, Book Release Calendar (love this) and Search…could not be any easier!

My Current Faves (linked to my reviews on Goodreads)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas    An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

And I Darken by Kiersten White     The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Andieh

The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski       The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer    The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Series not to be missed (my oldies but goodies)
Over the years, my students and I enjoyed discussing and sharing series.  Therefore, I am providing even more series (Animoto video) since I was a high school librarian for ten years. Retired for 4 years, I still ravenously read YA series and am always anxiously waiting for the next new title!  When I was a high school librarian, I did not get around to reading as many series as I would have liked, since librarians are also performing multifaceted jobs (you know what I mean.)  By the time I was able to read series such as, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, the whole series was finished!  I just gobbled all three books in the trilogy (one over Christmas break and the other over summer), loved them, of course, and it was heaven!

Amazing audiobooks series

A Court of Thorns and Roses Series Sarah J. Maas
The Selection Series Kiera Cass
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series Laini Taylor
Half Bad Series Sally Green

New Series I Want to READ
You can’t read every single series that comes out, but this Animoto video shows a few I WANT to read but have not gotten to yet.  But, oh how I do want to jump into them!

Nerd Alert! I just received Crooked Kingdom, Six of Crows, Book 2 by Leigh Bardugo on my Kindle, so I will begin reading this heist thriller immediately!

Additional Series Books Links

YA Series Adults Will Enjoy    

Essential YA Series Reads

Underrated Series That Need More Love


Unapologetically Smart Girls – #YearofYA September 2016


Image from Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

There are some incredible, real life smart girls out there to inspire and encourage us (including the incomparable Jennifer LaGarde who suggested this month’s theme!) but in September, we will be exploring the ferocious fictional femmes that prove we’re no fools!

When I (Mollee) think back to some of my favorite characters in grade school, Ramona, Matilda & Mary Poppins top the list. Lucky for me, the Harry Potter series released as I grew through middle school and high school, providing me with the ultimate smart girl, Hermione Granger. I still turn back to these characters as an adult and can identify the distinct ways they influenced my identity. Here’s a great article by Bustle on Ramona specifically and how she prepared young girls for adulthood (it’s hilarious, and for adults).

It’s essential that readers can see themselves in what they read, as well as have windows into the lives of others. And I’m not just talking girls…

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 11.16.19 AM.pngImage from Bustle

Books featuring young girls who can stick up for themselves, defend their loved ones, change the world, or simply be themselves without fear or shame send a strong message about equality: anything boys can do, girls can do too. Sometimes, they can even do it better.

This is an important theme for those of us reading in a lens of adults recommending books to our readers – whether they be in high school, or younger. As an elementary librarian, I’ve seen the struggle some of my young students face in thinking females are inferior to males. One of my admins came to me about a student who had been crying on the bus because a boy called her a feminist (using it in a derogatory way): “I told her that some of her favorite teachers are feminists, like you. Can you show her a good book to read so she understands it’s a good thing?” Guess what: that student has found understanding and encouragement in the pages of many a book. Here’s another story for you… my school is gearing up for its second school-wide read. I recommended Ramona Quimby, Age 8 but received backlash from our 98% female staff, that the story wouldn’t appeal to boys. We’re reading it, and it’s because I’ve pushed the importance of boys reading from a girl’s perspective.

Guess what folks, there’s no such thing as boy books and girl books. It’s time to accept that there are some unapologetically smart girls waiting to teach the world that, when given a chance, girls are right up there fighting bad guys, saving the day, and exercising some impressive brain power.

Read up – find the honorable heroines, and even those vile villainesses, that are waiting for their stories to be celebrated and read up in September. Then hand them off to students – remembering that all age readers, girls AND boys, need to read more of these stories!

August 2016 #YearofYA Teens Talk Tragedies (3)

Mollee’s Reads

I’m obsessed with this topic. So excited to hear what YOU read and share w/ us on our next chat! In the mean time, I’m exploring several options… and have to share that I think my favorite smart girl of 2016 so far is Willowdean from Murphy’s Dumplin‘. If you haven’t read it yet, treat yo’self.

I plan to read…

  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield – I was intrigued by the format of this one, where an 18 year old NaNoWriMo writer is pursuing her dream to publish YA, in alternating chapters with her novel. I haven’t investigated enough to learn if Darcy (or Lizzie) really falls under the “unapologetically smart” label, but as one also chasing down dreams of publication, I know the determination and guts it takes!
  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – it comes out in October but I scored an ARC at BEA… SO anxious to read it! The description of this book tells me that Libby is headstrong and determined to be true to herself; an important message for any reader.
  • Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock – this is Middle Grade (or maybe lower?) but it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. The student here learns to be unapologetically smart and just by a teacher who models those ideals.
  • The rest are TBD!! Have only picked these to START!

Tavia’s Reads
I (Tavia) am a feminist – and I make no excuses for it. When choosing books for the school library, I spend tons of time reading reviews and trying to pick titles that are representative of my kids. I also choose books that are important for my kids to read – books that offer characters that will inspire, give hope to and empower the young people I’m surrounded by on a daily basis. This month’s theme is so important to me, because like Mollee writes, everyone can find meaning from reading books with unapologetically strong and smart females!

To celebrate our theme, I’ll be reading these books:

  • The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman
    This is a classic, but it’s been a long time since I read it. I’m excited to dive in again. I’m thinking about doing the audio version this time around.
  • Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin
    I bought this for the school library last year, but never got around to reading it. It seems like a perfect fit for this month’s #YearofYA theme. I’m excited to read alt-history since this isn’t a genre I normally choose. Plus, one review I read described it as, “like Sons of Anarchy, Inglorious Bastards, and The Hunger Games had a baby.” I mean how can you say no to that!?!
  • Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill
    This book sounds pretty intriguing. The cover describes it as Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale. Sold!
  • Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
    I tried to read this book for another #YearofYA theme a while back, but ran out of time! I think this month’s theme is perfect. A book with a female assassin sounds like a page turner. Plus, my students keep begging me to read the series.

Additional Lists to help you find titles:

A Mighty Girl list

PBS Empowering Middle Grade Girls

The Daily Beast – Smart YA

HelloGiggles – 25 Books for Every Girl

Buzzfeed – This is what a feminist looks like

Oh, and as a bonus:

“The sexiest thing in the world is being really smart”