Beat the Summertime Traveling Blues

It is summer time, and you know what that means: It is time for family vacations and road trips!

Don’t let the normal travel stress eat away at family bonding time. If you are tired of arguments over what radio station to listen to or need to distract the kids from wondering if you’re there yet, why not borrow an audio book to make a long journey fly by?

Can’t agree on an audio book? Then let everyone choose their own e-book!  With over 1,000,000 titles available through 28,000 library branches, Overdrive really has something for everyone. So prepare for a trip to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ with one of the Harry Potter audio books. Or find the latest beach read to carry in your pocket with Overdrive’s app. With Overdrive, “The Library Comes to You.”

Reference

Overdrive. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.overdrive.com/

 

*This is not a sponsored post. This post is part of an assignment to help library students learn marketing skills that are vital to establishing public awareness for the programs and materials public libraries offer.*

23 Books For Your Perfect Young Adult Summer Reading List

23 Books For Your Perfect Young Adult Summer Reading List

As I sit at my computer it is currently 27° Fahrenheit, and there is ice falling from the heavens. Needless to say, I would love to be lying on a beach with my toes in the sand with a really good book. But instead I’ve got the second best thing: I’m cuddled on the couch with a fluffy blanket and a kitty on my lap. But while I’m wishing for a summer vacation I decided to peruse some summer reading lists online, and I couldn’t help but share this one. If any of you are feeling like me right now, why don’t you take a look at this reading list and see if something jumps out at you. Who says we need a beach and warm weather to enjoy a good book? 😉

Module 15: Thirteen Reasons Why

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Book Summary:

Clay was excited when he got home from school to find a package waiting for him. He hurriedly ripped off the paper and opened the box to find several cassette tapes inside. Clay wondered who uses cassette tapes anymore as he hunted around the house to find something that would play them. Suddenly he remembered that his dad had an old boom box in the garage. He was thankful that his dad kept one around as he plopped the first tape inside and pressed play. But what Clay heard next was the last thing he ever expected, and it would forever change his life: it was the voice of Hannah Baker, his secret crush, and the girl from school who committed suicide just two weeks earlier. And she was telling him that if he was listening to this tape then he was one of the 13 reasons why she killed herself.

APA Reference of Book:

Asher, J. (2007). Thirteen reasons why. New York, NY: Razorbill.

Impressions:

This book took my breath away. I began reading it before bed, one of those “I’ll just read for a few minutes to unwind.” Big mistake. I was hooked from the first page. This book sucked me in and didn’t let me go long after I finished the last page.

Suicide is a pressing problem for an increasing number of youths every year. Through elementary school to high school I personally had one friend whose brother committed suicide and two friends who attempted to commit suicide. Unfortunately I do not think that my experiences are unique. We live in a world where elementary age children are committing suicide with an alarming frequency, and that makes Thirteen Reasons Why an incredibly relevant read for teens and adults alike.

While reading this book I found myself both empathizing with Hannah and also hating her for her selfishness. In many ways the characters seem very heartbreakingly real and complex. As Clay listens to the tapes and responds to the statements Hannah makes the reader gets alternating perspectives surrounding the same information. In this way Asher offers the readers multiple perspectives that allows them to form their own opinions about the characters and what they are saying. It lets the readers to see how the same event can have vastly different effects on different people. What some might see as a harmless prank may genuinely hurt another person. I love how Asher explores the realm of actions and reactions and shows how no one action is so precise as to not touch others.

Professional Review:

“This uncommonly polished debut opens on a riveting scenario: 13 teenagers in a small town have each been designated to listen, in secret, to a box of audiotapes recorded by their classmate Hannah and mailed on the very day she commits suicide. “I’m about to tell you the story of my life,” she says. “More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.” Clay, the narrator, receives the tapes a few weeks after the suicide (each listener must send the box to the next, and Hannah has built in a plan to make sure her posthumous directions are followed), and his initial shock turns to horror as he hears the dead girl implicate his friends and acquaintances in various acts of callousness, cruelty or crime. Asher expertly paces the narrative, splicing Hannah’s tale with Clay’s mounting anxiety and fear. Just what has he done? Readers won’t be able to pull themselves away until that question gets answered—no matter that the premise is contrived and the plot details can be implausible. The author gets all the characters right, from the popular girl who wants to insure her status to the boy who rapes an unconscious girl at a party where the liquor flows too freely, and the veneer of authenticity suffices to hide the story’s flaws. Asher knows how to entertain an audience; this book will leave readers eager to see what he does next. Ages 13-up.”

(2007, October 8). [Review of the book Thirteen reasons why, by J. Asher]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59514-171-2.

Library uses:

Jay Asher has been known to do Skype sessions with classes and libraries to answer questions and talk about his books. This would be an excellent opportunity to have the young adults prepare questions for a virtual Q&A with the author. Additionally, this title could be used in conjunction with the Annual Yellow Ribbon Suicide Awareness/Prevention week.

Module 14: Crank

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Book Summary:

Kristina is a good student who gets good grades and never gets into trouble; Bree is confident, sexy, and an unyielding force that knows what she wants and takes it. What do these two wildly different girls have in common? Kristina and Bree are alter egos of the same person. She’s Kristina when she’s sober and Bree under the influence of the monster, crank aka meth. Bree didn’t exist until Kristina went to New Mexico to visit her estranged father. It’s there that she meets a boy who pulls her into a life of addiction and sends her life into a downward spiral.

APA Reference of Book:

Hopkins, E. (2004). Crank. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

Impressions:

I’ve avoided this author for a while. It’s not that I’ve heard bad things, but more that I knew the types of books she writes. Hopkins does not shy away from difficult topics like suicide, drug use and sex, and it has landed her on the American Library Association’s list of Most Frequently Challenged Authors of the 21st Century (click here to see more) more than once. I am an empathetic person, and I have to really steel myself to read books like these because I know they’ll put me in a dark mood. But Hopkins’s books have always caught my attention, and I’ve picked them up more than once in contemplation. So I finally took the leap earlier this week and picked up Crank. It is captivating. Hopkins’s writing style will capture your attention immediately, and you will be pulled into Kristina/ Bree’s roller-coaster world. I can definitely see that this book would not appeal to everyone, but I think that it is an important book for teens. When I was in high school, books like these kept me on the straight and narrow. I can personally say that I have benefited from titles that dealt with similar issues in the past, and I recommend them to my younger cousins to this day. They are not easy or happy reads by any means, but I feel that it is important for younger audiences to see that their decision to try drugs once may not be the harmless fun they’re promised.  It certainly wasn’t for Kristina.

Professional Review:

“Nonfiction author Hopkins pens her first novel, written in verse, introducing 15-year-old narrator Kristina, who reveals how she became addicted to crank, and how the stimulant turned her from straight-A student to drug dealer, and eventually a teen mom. On a court-ordered visit to see her slimy and long-absent dad, she meets—and is instantly attracted to—Adam, who sports a “tawny six pack,/ and a smile.” Soon, Adam introduces her to “the monster” (there, she also unleashes a new personality, id-driven Bree). Her addiction grows, as does Bree’s control. Readers get a vivid sense of the highs and lows involved with using crank (“I needed food, sleep,/ but the monster denied/ every bit of it”). Her life changes quickly: Soon she’s dating two guys, both of whom use crank; says “Fuck you” to her mom, can’t keep up with school, and loses her old friends. There are plenty of dramatic moments: The first time she does crank, for example, her dad joins her. That same night, she stumbles into a bad area and is almost raped, and Adam’s girlfriend tries to kill herself. Later in the book, she does get raped and starts selling the drug for the Mexican Mafia. Readers will appreciate the creative use of form here (some poems, for instance, are written in two columns that can be read separately or together), and although the author is definitely on a mission, she creates a world nearly as consuming and disturbing as the titular drug. Ages 14-up.”

(2004 November 1). [Review of the book Crank, by E. Hopkins]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-86519-0.

Library Uses:

This book is written in verse and could be used to help patrons learn about poetry. I would hold a poetry contest to allow teen patrons to submit poems about something that happened in their life.

Module 13: Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth

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Book Summary:

Junie B. Jones is having a bad day: she keeps getting in trouble for mouthing off, her mom’s mad at her because she keeps waking the baby, and she keeps getting into fights with her bestest friend. So what’s a girl to do when on top of it all she has to come up with the best costume ever for career day? Junie is determined to beat her classmates by being someone who paints, carries a lot of keys, and saves people. Now she just has to decide what that job actually is.

APA Reference of Book:

Park, B. (1993). Junie B. Jones and her big fat mouth. New York, NY: Random House.

Impressions:

I had never read a Junie B. Jones story before, so with the very passing of author Barbara Park I thought it was time that I read a few. I opted to read Junie B. Jones and Her Big Fat Mouth. This was an easy read, and I do mean super easy read for an adult. I finished the entire story in about 20 minutes, and I am a slow reader. Now, I don’t know if this is because I am an adult trying to read a second grader’s book, but I was not all that impressed. The book itself was fun, but Junie B. Jones was written to make it sound like a second grader is talking. That’s fine to a certain extent, but to constantly use improper grammar and spelling just seems like confusion waiting to happen. Sentences like “I hided my head” made me cringe because children learn grammar from what they read and hear, so to read a book that uses words like “worstest” and “bestest” but then expect the child to know it’s worst and best seems nightmarish. That being said, I also recognize the importance of kids reading anything, especially books that they enjoy, so if this book can be used as a “gateway” book then by all means. However, I would personally try to expose children to stories where proper grammar is used.

Poor grammar aside, this book also had a lot of good aspects. It explored gender bias, career opportunities, and the importance of respecting others for the work they do. I know that when I was in school the students largely ignored the janitor or looked down on them. But Junie befriends the janitor and shows the class (and readers) that a janitor’s work is important and that it is a valid career option. I felt like this was one of the more redeeming aspects of the book. The book can also be used as a teaching tool to show children how they should not behave. Junie is loud mouthed and easily excitable—she yells out in the middle of class and around the new baby often causing the baby to wake up and her mom to get upset. Some people may view this as a bad thing, but I think that it introduces some teachable moments. I mean, what second grader isn’t easily excitable?

Professional Review:

“Park convinces beginning readers that Junie B.—and reading—are lots of fun.”

(n.d) [Review of the book Junie B. Jones and her big fat mouth, by B. Park.]. Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.amazon.com/Junie-Jones-Her-Big-Mouth/dp/product-description/0679844074/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

Library Uses:

Like Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors, this book automatically lends itself to an introduction on career options and the importance of people in every job. I think that it would be a good idea to have some people from different jobs come to talk to young patrons like the teacher did with her students in this book.

Module 12: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors

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Book Summary:

Elizabeth Blackwell wanted to be a doctor. She dreamed of going to medical school and helping others. But despite her desire to become a doctor, she was met with scorn and a chorus of NOs. However, tenacious Elizabeth doesn’t take 28 NOs for an answer. Instead, she perseveres to overcomes the odds and become the first female doctor in America.

APA Reference of Book:

Stone, T.L. (2013) Who says women can’t be doctors. New York, NY: Christy Ottaviano Books.

Impressions:

The illustrations in the book are phenomenal, very colorful and captivating. I found this book to be a wonderful, smart substitution for the typical princess and Barbie book. It is important for children to understand how recently women were considered inferior, and it’s doubly important for girls to see a strong woman rising above her opposition and conquering the NOs. This book is full of lively detail. Anecdotes about Elizabeth carrying her brother over her head until he stopped trying to fight with her and sleeping on the cold wood floor to toughen herself up made me instantly relate to and like Elizabeth’s tenacity. The specific details of Elizabeth’s character added a lot of color to the story and really show Elizabeth in a relatable light. I highly recommend this book for woman needing a boost or any girl learning to come into her own. Fantastic book!

Professional Review:

“You might find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to become doctors,” opens this smart and lively biography of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America. Stone develops Blackwell’s personality through childhood anecdotes—as a child Blackwell once slept on a hard floor just “to toughen herself up”—before detailing her career path. Priceman’s typically graceful lines and bright gouache paintings make no bones about who’s on the wrong side of history: those who object to Blackwell’s achievements are portrayed as hawkish ladies and comically perturbed twerps in tailcoats. Ages 5–up.”

(2013, Feb. 04). [Review of the book Who says women can’t be doctors, by T.L. Stone]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8050-9048-2.

Library Uses:

I can think of a myriad ways this book could some in handy. It could be used in a Women’s History Month display or as a tool to help student’s study up on careers. A library could even hold a costume contest where young patrons dress up as their favorite real life hero or career goal.

Module 11: Bomb—The Race to Build—And Steal—The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon

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Book Summary:

In the late 1930s a German chemist made a discovery that would change the world forever: fission. The discovery that radioactive material could be used to split a uranium atom sent scientists, and their countries of origin, into a tizzy. This new discovery could be used to make a bomb the likes of which the world had never seen before. The race was on; everyone wanted to get their hands on the atomic bomb first, even if that meant stealing it. Bomb provides a comprehensive story of the bomb race spanning America, Great Brittan, and the Soviet Union during World War II.

APA Reference of Book:

Sheinkin, S. (2012). Bomb-the race to build-and steal-the world’s most dangerous weapon. New York, NW: Flash Point.

Impression:

This was an incredibly interesting book! There is often a stigma surrounding informational texts, people feel that they are dry and boring. But this was not the case with Bomb. Sheinkin compiled a ton of information from a huge number of sources, made it read like a fictitious espionage story and gave the reader several points of view surrounding the bomb race to consider. Bomb has been marketed for children and teens, but the scope of the book is so large—he writes about the small details in the science as well as overarching ramifications of atomic bomb creation—that it makes the book readable for adults too. Sheinkin provides a lot of detail in the science, but also does so in a narrative manner that lets the book read like a story—a huge feat considering that he compiled a lot of his information from declassified FBI documents. Sheinkin used a multitude of sources to create a “book [that] weaves together three basic story lines: the Americans try to build a bomb, the Soviets try to steal it, and the Allies try to sabotage the German bomb project” (Sheinkin, 2012, p.243). His narrative writing style draws the reader in without skipping the facts. He also provides a lot of thinking points on the creation of atomic bombs once it was all said and done. If anyone is interested in science or history—or wanting to become more interested—then this is the book to read.

Professional Review:

“In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book’s four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a “genie out of the bottle” epilogue, details of the Cold War’s escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin’s final thoughts: “It’s a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you’re in it.” A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10–up.”

(2012, August 13). [Review of the book Bomb-the race to build-and steal-the world’s most dangerous weapon, by S. Sheinkin]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59643-487-5.

Library Uses:

This is the book to use to introduce readers to a non-fiction story. This could be particularly interesting to patrons who need research for Chemistry or science experiments. You could also include it in a book display for science experiments, World War II or Hiroshima. Bonus, show students this video to get their ideas flowing. It shows some high school kids doing an experiment to explain fission using ping-pong balls and mousetraps.