#YearofYA Banned Books Month – September 2017

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I recently read a line (from one of these resources listed below) that the best way to guarantee kids will read a book, is to make it forbidden to them! Isn’t that the truth? Often, we can recall the book we hid from our parents, the ones we knew they’d question… but those are the ones that made us readers!

September is Banned Books Month, with the last week being dedicated specifically to celebrating the right to read. There are countless ways to bring attention to readers of all ages during the month, but we hope you’ll find a title or 2 (perhaps even more!) that have been banned from young readers. Read it, evaluate it, challenge your mind… but please don’t ban it from other readers.

We’ll bring the tough Q’s to our chat on September 26th at 8pm EST. Tweet out any resources you have to share with other educators using #YearofYA anytime during the month!

What Banned Books Say about Our Society’s Fears (Time)


#YearofYA Throwback Reads: August 2017

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Michael Jackson. Jem and the Holograms. Jams.


Michael Jordan. Spice Girls. Lisa Frank.



Two decades. Two different stories.

These were the years that shaped Tavia & Mollee.

Flashback to the years when “Young Adult’ meant teens reading books that are totally not for “young” adults (as ScaryMommy shares…). Eventually authors fought their way onto the market and changed the game for young readers. In the 1980’s, Ann. M. Martin, Walter Dean Myers, Francesca Lia Block & the Sweet Valley High series changed the literature landscape. By writing books that were relevant and interesting to a younger audience, they paved the way for more authors to emerge in the 1990’s. R.L. Stine, Lois Lowry, Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson and of course, J.K. Rowling, changed the game. Because of them, we have hundreds of thousands of books to appeal to teens decades later. (And look at how Sarah & Laurie still put out timely, well-loved stories 20 years later!) 

Pull out your favorite neon and/or grunge gear, turn up Blondie, Madonna, Bowie, Prince… and N*SYNC (hah!), catch a few episodes of Saved By the Bell and Growing Pains, or rewatch John Hughes classics… then dive into some YA lit from the 80’s & 90’s! You can travel back in time via a DeLorean … or just choose a book published IN the 80’s / 90’s  or a book SET in those years.

Below are some lists to get your ideas rolling like Coolio & his homies :




July 2017 #YearofYA : Unique Formats

We cannot deny how much our readers — from elementary through high school — are drawn to graphic novels. Rep John Lewis’s memoir, March, won ALL the awards this year. Raina is recognized on a first name basis (like Madonna. Or Oprah.) And while parents might grumble over how fast their kids read through them, the power of this unique format cannot be denied.

But it’s not just graphic novels that hook readers. All kinds of unique formats are out there baiting young readers to explore. Kwame’s poetry. Greg’s (OK, Jeff Kinney) Diary. Ransom’s creepy photographs. Gene Luen Yang’s graphics. Push your fictional boundaries in July & find some books that have unique formats… #YearofYA is about CHOICE so “unique format” can be defined how it works for you! Below are some books lists that include graphic novels, novels in verse, epistolary and more.
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Book Riot: YA Books in Verse

B&N 6 YA books w/ Unique Formats

Bustle 11 experimental YA books

Teen Librarian Toolbox: Lists, Letters & More

Epic Reads: 12 Must Read YA Graphic Novels

Bustle Epistolary Novels

Boomerang Books: YA Books told through letters, notes & emails


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June 2017: Narratives & Knowledge #YearofYA


Nonfiction can have a reputation with young readers: it might be all they read, or it could be what they actively avoid! This month we’re putting  a spotlight on the INFORMATIONAL side of reading – so pick up a how-to for a hobby your students might enjoy, or a narrative nonfiction that will have you reading late into the night… or the emerging niche of YouTube stars memoirs. Below are some award winners, book lists, and articles to get you started but remember — this is YOUR choice! When it comes time to chat, #YearofYA is focused on idea-sharing and growing our perspective, not on reading the same book so read what interests you 🙂

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YASLA Nonfiction Award Winners:



YA Nonfiction released in 2017 by stackedbooks.org


Recent Nonfiction releases for Young Readers:


Books by YouTube Stars by Teen.Com


Nonfiction Page Turners for Teens:


Nonfiction for Tween/Teen Girls:


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