ya-literature

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Attanya: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because I love science fiction and fantasy books, but I’m tired of authors treating dragons and robots and magic as more plausible than black and brown characters

Jennifer: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because… when I was 13 a white girl told me it was selfishthat all of the protagonists in my stories were Latina because she “just can’t relate to nonwhite characters.” She made me feel guilty for writing about people like me. 

Aiesha: #WeNeedDiverseBooks because…Black Girls are more than sidekicks or “sassy, ghetto friend”

Facts and Figures About Race/Ethnicity in YA and Children’s Lit:

#WENEEDDIVERSEBOOKS

Posting this a little late, but followers please take the time out to check out this post explaining the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and more events to come over the next few days! 

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According to People magazine, Oklahoma teens Katie Hill and Arin Andrews, who are transgender and were in a relationship with each other during their transitions, will share their stories in two memoirs to be published Sept. 30, 2014, by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. The book covers, revealed today, are above.

Katie Hill told People, "I don’t want this book to just appeal to transgender people or their allies. I want people to understand that there really is no such thing as normal."

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High School Reading List

Back in May, the #weneeddiversebooks campaign lit a fire to fulfill the desperate need for diverse books in children’s literature. Behind the Book has always championed efforts to find diverse authors and protagonists that will appeal to students since we serve communities of color. For your enjoyment (and enrichment), we’ve created an epic list of diverse books to reflect the diversity in our city; here’s our list for high school students.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Drown by Junot Diaz

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

The Living by Matt De La Peña, a Behind the Book author

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell: a Novel by Nadia Hashimi

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

The Book of Unknown Americans: a Novel by Cristina Henríquez

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle

Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

For descriptions, click the read more!

(Click the following links to be directed to the Kindergarten, (early) Elementary and Middle Grade lists)

Keep reading

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The news just broke… Walter Dean Myers has passed. In his lifetime, he wrote over 100 books, served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, won too many awards and honors to list, advised and inspired kids and young writers everywhere, and impacted thousands of lives. He was a lifelong proponent of diversity in children’s literature, and just a few months ago wrote an article that once again sparked the discussion.

Rest well, sir. You will be remembered always.

Beyond this, words fail me.

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We might have mentioned before how much we love science fiction, and the fact that this year’s summer reading theme is Science. Actually: Science!! It needs an exclamation point. 

So, we’ve put together a really, really, incredibly huge booklist (working title? The Hive) for fans of science and fantasy fiction - and we added a little something extra, since, if you’re anything like us, when you love reading a genre, you love to watch films and shows, and play video games, in that same genre. 

And if you’re playing Reading Bingo this summer with us for Summer Reading - or if you’re planning to take part in our Summer Fling (With a Book)! matchmaking program - then these books will definitely see you through summer and beyond!

It’s a fact that ableism, homophobia, and racism influence countless aspects of people’s everyday lives. Micro-aggressions, stereotypes, internalized prejudice, flagrant bigotry, institutionalised discrimination… There are also other matters to consider: accessibility, hair or skin care, limited dating pools, communities, culture, etc.

When none of these elements are acknowledged in realistic fiction, I notice. When the absence of those elements is praised, I notice especially.

And I wonder — perhaps uncharitably — are diverse characters only OK as long as they’re not too diverse?

—  Great article by YA author Corinne Duyvis on “incidental diversity” in books and the decline of the issues book. Lots worth thinking about. 
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Last week, it was our Summer Fling picks for adult fiction. Today, our Young Adult Fiction Summer Fling with a Book Hive Booklist! (We know: It needs a better title. =) )

And as you can see, it took just a teensy bit longer because our readers overwhelmingly preferred YA - here’s everything we recommended for romance, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery/thriller, plus a few bonus beach reads to boot. Thank you to everyone who submitted a personality quiz - we had a fantastic summer with our summer fling readers!

And in case you missed it, we got you covered for fall books, too!  

Resource: Should You Swear in YA? (And Other Rules About Cursing)

Your mother probably taught you not to curse when you were a child; as a teenager, you learned the freedom in screaming FUCK at the top of your lungs. Now you’re an adult (or at least a focused, responsible writer), and the problem with swearing has snuck back up on you: what is too much, and where do you draw the line between authentic and vulgar? While there’s no single rule for when to swear and when not to in literature, here are some resources I hope will help you avoid that long debate with your editor in the future. 

Rules For Swearing In Literature:

Should You Swear in Young Adult Literature?

Swearing Around the World:

There’s no life lesson here, no “remember” this for me to wrap up this post with. Use your discretion, Folks. At the end of the day, authenticity is key, and if it’s really an unacceptable word, well, editors are trained to remove it for you (try to avoid it in the titles). 

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10 Diverse YA Historicals About Girls

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are 10 diverse young adult historical novels about girls. Descriptions are from Worldcat.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (Alfred A. Knopf)

Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin)

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is locked away in the Wildthorn Hall mental institution, where she is stripped of her identity and left to wonder who has tried to destroy her life.

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba. Includes historical notes, excerpts from her writings, biographical information, and source notes.

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick Press)

In 1848 Willow, a fifteen-year-old educated slave girl, faces an inconceivable choice – between bondage and freedom, family and love – as free born, seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, takes it upon himself to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can on the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (Arthur A. Levine Books)

When Jade Moon, born in the unlucky year of the Fire Horse, and her father immigrate to America in 1923 and are detained at Angel Island Immigration Station, Jade Moon is determined to find a way through and prove that she is not cursed.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic)

It is 1969 in Spanish Harlem, and fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is trying hard to break free from her conservative Puerto Rican surroundings, but when her activist grandmother comes to stay and the neighborhood protests start, things get a lot more complicated–and dangerous.

Anahita’s Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres (Amulet)

In Iran, more than 100 years ago, a young girl with three suitors gets permission from her father and a holy man to weave into her wedding rug a riddle to be solved by her future husband, which will ensure that he has wit to match hers.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman (Penguin)

In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, fifteen-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father’s extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery, and friendship of her fellow prisoners.

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang (Delacorte)

Emmajin, the sixteen-year-old eldest granddaughter of Khublai Khan, becomes a warrior and falls in love with explorer Marco Polo in thirteenth-century China.

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We love making book lists. (Obviously.) But we especially love when we get to make lists for a) incredible books, and b) incredible books by incredible authors who’ll be here on July 26 for our YA Author Fest!

12 Authors. 1 Day. Meet and greets, book signings, and discussions between authors and readers: it’s going to be a great day for fans of YA literature!

We’ve rounded up all of our reading suggestions for each author’s books, so if said fans are looking for stellar reads this summer - well, there’s a lot here, so it might take you through fall, too! - look no further.