reading lists

Upcoming Books | Northern Virginia Children/YA Authors | Sick of Dystopian Societies and Boys who Bite? | Lucky Number 13 | 10 Board Books to Have in Your Home Library | Contemporary Fiction for Teenage Boys | History Books for Boys (and Alternative Reads for Parents) | Edgy Fantasy for Chicks | Fairy Tales Retold | Salt Lake Area YA/Children's Authors | Supernatural Books for Chicks | Illustrations of World Mythology | Transitioning from YA to Adult Books | Audiobooks for the Audiophile | Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness | More Novocaine, Please | A Road Trip in Books | Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah | The First Day of School | Boarding School Books | Screaming Good Books | Series to Grow Up With | Imagine a Winter Wonderland | A Sick Day for Bookworm | Life After High School | Race in America | Houses and Homes

Upcoming Books
There are so many good books coming out that it's pretty much impossible to keep up with them all. I'll try to remember to update this list when I find new ones that I'm excited for, but I make no promises!

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 7, 2014)

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (Oct. 14, 2014)

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (Oct. 21, 2014)

The Sorcerer Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Nov. 4, 2014)

Wild Rover No More by L. A. Meyer (Nov 4, 2014)

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (Feb. 3, 2015)

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (Summer 2015)

Gem and Dixie by Sara Zarr (2015)

Embassy Row by Ally Carter (2015)

A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou (2015)

The Maypop Kidnapping by Cynthia Surrisi (2015)

Blood Passage by Heather Demetrios (2015)

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (2015)

Freedom's Slave by Heather Demetrios (2016)

The Cage by Megan Shepherd (2016)

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Northern Virginia Children/YA Authors
Shop local! I love knowing which authors live around the corner, and let me tell you, Northern Virginia is pretty populated. There are some fan-freakin'-tastic authors in the area who will rock your world, make you cry and plain entertain you.

Never Ever Talk to Strangers by Anne Marie Pace

Milagros: Girl from Away by Meg Medina

The Map of Me by Tami Lewis Brown

Investigating Why Leaves Change Their Color (Science Detectives) by Ellen René (Braaf)

Monsieur Durand's Grosse Affaire and What's New at the Zoo? An Animal Adding Adventure illustrated by Joan Waites

Isabelle's Boyfriend by Caroline Hickey

The Other Side of Blue by Valerie O. Patterson

Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

Claiming Georgia Tate by Gigi Amateau

Going for the Record by Julie A. Swanson

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

Homefront by Doris Gwaltney

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan Long Shang

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine

Operation Yes by Sara Holmes

D-day And Beyond by Julie M. Phend

Alfie the Apostrophe by Moira Rose Donohue

The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony

Mrs. Muddle's Holidays by Laura F. Nielsen

Crocodaddy by Kim Norman

Freakling by Lana Krumwiede

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Sick of Dystopian Societies and Boys who Bite?
Try these contemporary series for YA girls. I'm not opposed to sci-fi or paranormal or fantasy (I've read all the Twilight books and couldn't devour the Hunger Games trilogy fast enough), but you can read about every-day girls and find a powerful story. Also, you don't need poor little rich girls or private school drama to have a good series, although a couple of the series listed here have those as well. I have also included a few books with sequels. These books are all for older teen readers.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants and Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares: I loved this series the first time I read it, and I continue to love it seven years later.

Peaches, The Secrets of Peaches, and Love and Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson: These girls are the Sisterhood of the South.

Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty: I can't think of a girl more different than me, but somehow Jessica Darling managed to make me understand her.

Gingerbread, Shrimp and Cupcake by Rachel Cohn: This is my poor little rich girl series, but the main character doesn't stay downtrodden (or filthy rich) for long.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, and Only the Good Spy Young by by Ally Carter: This is my boarding school drama series, only there girls know how to kick some butt.

Lucky, Gorgeous and Brilliant by Rachel Vail: I liked the twists and surprising depth I found in these characters.

Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson: Two books thus far, but I believe at least one more is on its way.

Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls and Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox by Bennett Madison: I sure hope this Prada-wearing Nancy Drew has a couple more books in her future.

Vegan Virgin Valentine and Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler: A story of one girl, and another about her niece.

What My Mother Doesn't Know and What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones: A book in verse and its sequel.

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Lucky Number 13
13 is an incredibly transitional reading age. As kids move from middle grade to YA books, we often try to force them into books that are too young for their interests or too "classic" for their taste. In fact, many kids (especially boys) stop reading altogether. Here's a list of 13 books I wish had been around when I was 13. (That means all of these books have been published in the last 13 years.) There's a mix of books for boys and girls, fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and realism.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Dis-utopia book about kids battling to the death on TV.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer: Dis-utopia book about a child raised to be a organ donor.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Paranormal book about a boy raised by ghosts.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: Fantasy about a girl whose father reads books alive.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: Fairy tale retelling of the Grimm's story Maid Maleen about a servant who's locked in a tower with her mistress.

Airman by Eoin Colfer: Old-school adventure novel about an inventive young man's escape from a prison work camp.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson: Historical fiction about a slave girl during the Revolutionary War.

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli: Contemporary novel about a stargazer, skateboarder, chess champ, pepperoni pizza eater, older brother, sister hater, best friend, first kisser, science geek, control freak discovering the universe.

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta: Sports novel about a baseball player living in a town where it's been raining for 8,030 consecutive days.

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong: Nonfiction about a failed expedition to the South Pole that didn't end it tragedy.

Phineas Gage by John Fleischman: Nonfiction about a gruesome accident that introduced the medical world to the workings of the human brain.

Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti: Nonfiction about the other side of WWII.

10,000 Days of Thunder by Philip Caputo: Nonfiction about the Vietnam War.

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10 Board Books to Have in Your Home Library
Whether or not you have children in your home, your home library should include books for children. Books were a part of your development, so they should still be a part of your library. Here is a list of 10 board books to help you get started.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: In publication since 1947

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: A book about growing

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle: Repeating patterns

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert: Introducing colors and shapes

I Love You Stinky Face by Cyd Moore: Hugs and kisses

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: Adventure and discovery

Chicka Chicka ABC by John Archambault: Introducing ABCs

Fifteen Animals! by Sandra Boynton: Bob!

Oh, David! by David Shannon: Real-life kid

The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! by Mo Willems: Cars and trucks

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Contemporary Fiction for Teenage Boys
We often think teenage boys only read sci-fi and comic books, but that's not true. There are a lot of contemporary YA books written for boys, about boys and by boys that shouldn't be overlooked. This list is limited to one book by each author, all published within the last ten years.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: An underage Australian cabdriver is chosen to save the lives of complete strangers.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle: The lives of two recent high school graduates collide in an unlikely moment--a boy who has everything to look forward to and a girl whose best years are behind her.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher: A terminally ill 18 year-old decides to keep his condition a secret so he can tie up the loose ends in his life before he dies.

Are We There Yet? by David Levithan: Two bothers travel to Italy together and try to repair their broken relationship.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: A former child prodigy sets out to create a mathematical formula to predict the end of a relationship.

Heavy Metal And You by Christopher Krovatin: A New York City teen finds an outlet for his anger through heavy metal.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga: A goth girl shows a comic-book geek that he doesn't just have to imagine a future--he needs to take charge of it.

Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron: An indie-rocker discovers that fame and music and life aren't always pretty or satisfying.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger: For the first time in their lives, a group of best friends realize they are heading in different directions.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: A boy struggling to come to terms with his friend's suicide takes a guided tour of the events that led her to take her own life.

Notes From The Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick: After being put on probation for a drunk-driving incident, a 16 year-old must learn to take responsibility for his actions.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: How can your escape the future your heritage promises while still honoring the past?

Slam by Nick Hornby: The only son of a teenage mother finds out his ex-girlfriend is pregnant on his sixteenth birthday.

Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman: A boy watches his best friend transition from high school zero to party-throwing hero.

Small Steps by Louis Sachar: From the moment a juvenile delinquent meets pop star Kaira Spears "DeLeon," he knows he can overcome his past and become the person she believes he can be.

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli: The day scientists discover proton decay is the day a science geek first suspects his life is decaying as well.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar: A high school freshman uses words to make a place for himself on the school paper and in the heart of his suddenly beautiful best friend.

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta: Life is all about percentages for the players of a baseball team in a town where it hasn't stopped raining for 8,030 consecutive days.

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History Books for Boys (and Alternative Reads for Parents)
Reading with you children doesn't always mean reading aloud with your child. Reading about the same topic can make for great parent/child discussions and also encourage your child to pick up a more advanced book to learn more. If you have an adventurous boy who can't seem to sit still long enough to get through a novel, try some of these nonfiction options.
For Boys
For Parents
The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon: This was the first book to win the Newbery Award, and it is still a great comprehensive history of mankind.
From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun: I've been in love with this book since my history professor encouraged me to read it when it first came out.
George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen: I'm not as big a fan of this book as I am the others, but the concept is interesting and the stories really are true.
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis: In fact, if you have a slightly advanced reader, you might want to encourage him to read this one with you.
Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman: With this book, Russell Freedman changed the way middle-grade nonfiction is written and presented.
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald: Of course this is the definitive biography about the name himself.
Photo by Brady: A Picture of the Civil War by Jennifer Armstrong: While it covers a similar period in history as Lincoln: A Photobiography, this book gives a great over-all visual history of the War Between the States.
The Civil War by Ken Burns: I know I'm cheating with this one, but this PBS series is really the grown-up alternative to a visual history of the Civil War.
Phineas Gage by John Fleischman: What 10-year-old boy wouldn't love to read about a railroad spike being blown through someone's brain?
An Odd Kind of Fame by Malcolm Macmillan: I will admit I haven't actually read this book, but all the reviewers seem to like it.
Ghosts of Everest by Jochen Hemmleb: This was a fascinating historical mystery. Did they make it to the top? Will we ever know for sure? What really happened that day on Mt. Everest? Make sure to have a blanket a cup of coco with you when you read this one.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: I know--cheating again! While this is a memoir rather than a history of mountaineering, I think it has a similar mysterious element to is as Ghosts of Everest. Because of altitude sickness and the strange things it does to your brain, no one really knows what lead to these Everest deaths either.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong: I read Endurance first and was excited to be able to share an age-appropriate version with my students.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing: While I loved this one when I read it, I almost preferred the middle-grade version of the events.
Mission to the Moon by Alan Dyer: You can't go wrong with space adventure, and this book has an amazing DVD to go along with it.
Off the Planet by Jerry M. Linenger: This is another memoir, but the middle-grade read talks about the modern space program as well, so I think this one is a good parental companion book.
Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh: I know, two space books in a row, but I couldn't pick one and not the other.
Moon Shot by Alan Shepard: Like Team Moon, this tells some of the lesser-known stories of Apollo 11.
10,000 Days of Thunder by Philip Caputo: Kids aren't exposed to enough modern history, and this book is a great introduction to the Vietnam War. The best part is that it is not anti-war nor pro-war--it's just facts.
On Their Own by Joyce Hoffmann: There are a lot of adult books out there about Vietnam, but my personal favorites are about journalists. And this one has to be the best of the best for me.
The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden: You could say this is the field guide to being a boy. In fact, every mother should read this book so she understands what boys want to know. And this one is not cheating--there is a history section.

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Edgy Fantasy for Chicks
A little bit of magic, a little bit of romance and a little bit of fairy lore. Fantasy isn’t just for nerds any more. Even if I am a nerd, you don’t have to be one to like these chick-lit books with a fantasy twist. (Some of the books on this list are for more mature readers.)

A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray: Gemma is not your average Victorian heroin, and Bray is not your average YA author.

Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder: These books will keep you on the hook to the very end and wanting more after you've finished.

Tithe, Valiant and Ironside by Holly Black: Sassy and spirited (no pun intended), these books are great if you want an edge to your fantasy.

Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr: These books are very similar to Black's, but they style is totally new and engaging.

Wake, Fade and Gone by Lisa McMann: The wake trilogy is what nightmares are made of yet where hope is found.

Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight, Cast in Secret, Cast in Fury, Cast in Silence and Cast in Chaos by Michelle Sagara: Though the exposition can drag a little, this heroine will make you fall in love with her and give her all of your hope.

Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce: What can I say about Tamora Pierce that hasn't already been said? Her writing is amazing, her characters are powerful and her stories matter.

Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: Bless with Grace, a girl discovers the power within.

Demon King, Exiled Queen, Sword of Hanalea and Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima: I LOVED Chima's Heir books, but these will blow your mind.

Impossible and Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin: These books are difficult to categorize--not quite urban fantasy, not quite fairy tale retellings. But they are touching and beautiful.

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Fairy Tales Retold
There's just something about reading a story that stars with "Once upon a time..." and ends with "...happily ever after" that makes me want to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and sigh in contentment. Passed down from generation to generation, fairy tales inspire a kind of timeless storytelling that transcends all other literature.

The Brothers Grimm
Princess at the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
Ella Enchanted, Fairest and Princess Sonora & the Long Sleep by Gail Carson Levine
The Books of Bayern and Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Beauty, Rose Daughter, The Door in the Hedge and Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Beastly, A Kiss in Time and Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Zel, Spinners and Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt
Sherwood by Jane Yolen

Arthurian Legend
Avalon High (also in manga) by to Meg Cabot
The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
The New Magic Trilogy by Pamela F. Service
The Young Merlin Trilogy by Jane Yolen

Greek Myth
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
Oh My Gods and Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs
Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Nobody’s Princess and Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner
Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Chinese Myth
Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

World Mythology
Hush (Ireland) and The Wager (Italy) by Donna Jo Napoli
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow (Norse) by Jessica Day George
Plain Kate (Scandinavia) by Erin Bow
Fetch (Russia) by Laura Whitcomb
The Reluctant God (Egypt) and Weirdos of the Universe, Unite! by Pamela F. Service
Favorite Folktales from Around the World by Jane Yolen
Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan

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Salt Lake Area YA/Children's Authors
I've found some really great local authors who deserve to be noticed for their writing. Some of these names and books will be familiar to a lot of people, but some are kind of unknowns. I once called Utah a "hotbed for emerging YA authors" and was responded to with disbelief and laughter. Who's laughing now?

(As a side-note, I've moved away from SLC, but I still keep tabs on the authors from my old stomping grounds.)

Story of a Girl, Sweethearts and Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

The Way He Lived and Back When You Were Easy to Love by Emily Wing Smith

The Chosen One, Glimpse and Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters and Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

Life in the Pit and The Limit by Kristen Landon

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by A. E. Cannon

Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

Wings and Spells by Aprilynne Pike

The Dark Divine and The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, The Goose Girl and Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale

The Princess and the Hound and Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison

Matched by Ally Condie

Princess of the Midnight Ball, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow and Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

The Maze Runner and The 13th Reality by James Dashner

Everything Is Fine. and This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis

A World Without Heroes and Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fanny's Dream and Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

What Do Teachers Do (After You Leave School)? and Tooth Fairy's First Night by Anne Bowen

Around the House, The Fox Chased the Mouse by Rick Walton

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Supernatural Books for Chicks
These are some of the best chick-lit paranormal books out there. (Some of these books are for more mature readers.)

Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater: Werewolves

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan: Zombies

Bitten, Stolen, Broken and Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong: Werewolves

Shadowland, Ninth Key, Reunion, Darkest Hour, Haunted and Twilight by Meg Cabot: Ghosts

Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Kitty Goes to Washington, Kitty Takes a Holiday, Kitty and the Silver Bullet, Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand, Kitty's House of Horrors and Kitty Raises Hell by Carrie Vaughn: Werewolves

Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne and River Marked by Patricia Briggs: Shape-Shifters

Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy and Misguided Angel by Melissa De La Cruz: Vampires

City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare: Vampires

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina by Quirk Classics: Monsters

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Illustrations of World Mythology
It used to be the myths were the means to explain the world around us. How the sun streaks across the sky in Helios's chariot of fire. That the Nile River floods every year because of the tears Isis wept for Osiris. Why the wolf sang the moon into the night sky. Somehow, over time, science has become the means for debunking myths rather than the reason for creating them. Yet the magic of some stories manage to endure and captivate children all over the world.

The Boy of the Three-Year Nap by Diane Snyder: Japan

The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching by Demi: China

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling: India

The Tale of The Firebird by Gennady Spirin: Russia

Golem by David Wisniewski: Eastern Europe

Noah's Ark by Peter Spier: Middle East

Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott: West Africa

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman: Britain

John Henry by Julius Lester: North America

Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air by Natalia M Belting: South America

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Transitioning from YA to Adult Books
After spending years reading young adult fiction, moving on to adult fiction can be hard. While the classics they make you read in school are great books, sometimes you just want to read a contemporary author you like. But don't be fooled: Just because an author writes best-selling adult books does not guarantee their YA books will be worth reading, and often times, YA authors who venture into main-stream fiction fall flat. But knowing authors who bridge the gap between YA and mainstream fiction can make the process a little less intimidating.

Nick Hornby: One of the greatest contemporary writers of our time, Hornby's books are powerful and gritty, emotional and exposing. Unfortunately, his YA book just can't compare to his novels for adults.
Carl Hiaasen: Probably the most sardonic writers I have ever come across, Hiaasen is the watch-dog for the Florida Everglades, both in his fiction and his columns for the Miami Harold. And where his adult fiction has become formulaic over the years, his children's writing is just taking off.
Meg Cabot: No one can crank them out like Cabot. From middle grade to YA to adults, you will consistently have a new book to read every year no matter how old you get. Well, at least until she stops writing, which will probably be beyond the grave.
Ann Brashares: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants has been hard to live up to, but Brashares is branching out and writing for more diverse ages. Her stories are bitter-sweet without being overly sappy, which I tend to like.
Shannon Hale: Hale has award-wining, NYT-bestselling books for every age group. But honestly, her books for adults just don't compare to her witty, moving and adventurous fairytale retellings for young readers.
Stephenie Meyer: I know some people will criticize me for including Meyer on this list, but let's be honest, she's done more for cross-over literature than anyone save J.K. Rowling, and J.K. Rowling has never published anything specifically for adults.
Kelley Armstrong: I could also included P.C. Cast, Richelle Mead or about a dozen other paranormal romance authors--they all tend to sell well in both markets. Though I think Armstrong's teen characters are a little underdeveloped, I like that she's branched out into thriller novels.
Maria V. Snyder: Who would have guessed a meteorologist could write this well. Snyders books are imaginative and beautiful with the perfect mix of romance and adventure.
Carrie Vaughn: A relatively new voice in publishing, Vaughn has been popping up everywhere in the past couple of years. She's just getting started in the YA market, but if the success of her adult books are any kind of indicator, she has many great YA books to come.
Orson Scott Card: He's lost some consistency with his writing, but Ender's Game puts and keeps him on this list. It is a regular part of sci-fi curriculum (especially in high schools), and he continues to expand Ender's universe as well as add new worlds to the mix.
Brandon Sanderson: Like Vaugn, Sanderson kind of burst onto the publishing scene with unrelenting success. His big break came when he was contracted to complete the Wheel of Time Series, but his personal body of work speaks for itself.
Neil Gaiman: I would be a fool not to include Gaiman on this list. He's won the Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. He is what every author wishes they could be: diversified, talented and sucessful.
Terry Pratchett: Like with the paranormal romance authors, I know there are a lot more cross-over fantasy authors, but I think you get the point. Plus, Pratchett and Gainman kind of end this list on a high note.

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Audiobooks for the Audiophile
In no particular order, here are my favorite children's/MG/YA audiobooks:

The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (Author) and Jim Dale (Narrator)

Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer (Author) and Katherine Kellgren (Narrator)

Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer (Author) and Sean Patrick Reilly (Narrator)

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (Author) and Brendan Fraser (Narrator)

Heist Society by Ally Carter (Author) and Angela Dawe (Narrator)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Author) and Various Artists (Narrator)

Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman (Author) and Various Artists (Narrator)

Jazz by Walter Dean Myers (Author), James Williams (Narrator) and Vanesse Thomas (Narrator)

Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Author) and Robert Ramirez (Narrator)

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela (Compiler) and Various Artists (Narrator)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Author) and Jeff Woodman (Narrator)

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (Author), Emily Janice Card (Narrator) and Emma Bering (Narrator)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gauman (Author and Narrator)

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (Author and Narator)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Author and Narrator)

If you want more recommendations, the ALA's new Odyssey Award recognizes the best audiobook produced for YA/children, and AudioFile Magazine presents The Audie Awards for many different categories.

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Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness
In honor of Mental Health Month, here is a list of YA fiction dealing with mental health issues that have touched me.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones

Venomous by Christopher Krovatin

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

Everything Is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

For more information on maintaining mental health and being more accepting of those who struggle with mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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More Novocaine, Please
A short list of fun, clever picture books about teeth:

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer

Arthur's Tooth by Marc Brown

Tooth Fairy's First Night by Anne Bowen

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby Beeler

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A Road Trip in Books
As this summer draws to a close, I'm dedicating this new reading list to that great summer tradition: The Road Trip.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: All journeys begin with a single step. For one girl, learning to deal with her mother's abandonment means retracing the steps of her spiritual quest.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex: Some road trips are out of this world. Well, maybe it stays on this world, but an 11-year-old girl from Pennsylvania managers to bring an extraterrestrial along for the ride.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: A trip around the world may be the only way to go. Thirteen messages from her deceased aunt will lead one teenager back to where it all began.

Paper Towns by John Green: Discovering yourself means looking beyond what's right in front of you. One boy and his loyal friends soon discover that you can't save someone unwilling to save herself.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray: "Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within" (Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra). A sudden illness takes a boy and his hospital companion on a wild ride to find a cure.

Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler: Putting your mistakes behind you takes more than distance. On a road trip to visit her absentee mother, the queen of meaningless hookups tries to avoid the future by outrunning her past.

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Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
When summer faded into winter, there were plenty of books to read about camp, so the next summer camp never seemed far away.

The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Little Critter Goes at Scout Camp by Mercer Mayer

The Baby-Sitters Club: Summer Vacation by Ann M. Martin

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Holes by Louis Sachar

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan

Summer Camp Secrets Series by Katy Grant

Camp Confidential Series by Melissa J. Morgan

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The First Day of School
The first day of school changes everything. So here are some books for different age groups crossing a lot of genres that take place on (or close to) the first day of school.

Picture Books
Kissing Hands by Audrey Penn
Sea Monster's First Day by Kate Messner
David Goes To School by David Shannon
Arthur's Teacher Trouble by Marc Brown

Early Reader/Chapter Books
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls #2: The New Girl by Meg Cabot
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Middle Grade
The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Upper YA
Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sheman Alexie
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

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Boarding School Books
We all want people to see us as more than we are. Maybe that's why so many books involve boarding school--a specialized school allows us to be rich/smart/talented in a way we never saw ourselves before.

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale: In the small village of Mt. Eskel, ordinary girls leaning how to be a princesses in hope to marry the prince of Danland.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling: Hogwarts teaches special children about the importance of friendship, the continuous battle between good and evil, and the exciting possibilities of the wizarding world.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce: Born a lady of the realm, Alanna disguises herself as a boy to learn the royal palace of Corus disguises herself as a boy to train as a knight.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter: The Gallagher Academy has a long history of teaching talented girls the art of being a spy.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L.A. Meyer: Only the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls can turn a pirate into a lady.

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs: From ordinary to extraordinary, the Academy caters to the modern decedents of the Greek god.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Attending boarding school in Paris means exploring the City of Lights, discovering foreign cinema and finding a boy to share a real French kiss with.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: Gemma Doyle soon discovers there's more than meets the eye at the Spence Academy for Young Ladies.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Miles Halter goes to Culver Creek Preparatory School hoping to find the Great Perhaps.

Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn by Sarah Miller: Something unexpected is going on at Midvale Academy when a girl is able to see into the mind of one Gideon Rayburn.

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Screaming Good Books
Neil Gaiman proposed giving scary books as gifts on Halloween. As some of you know, I don't really do scary books, mostly because they're...well...scary. But scary picture books? Those I can mostly handle.

Here are a few off my favorite spooky picture books to give to your little ghoul:
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Mommy? by Maurice Sendak
The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
Julius's Candy Corn by Kevin Henkes
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willams
Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
The Littlest Witch by Jeanne Massey
Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (This book's for older readers but is still a picture book. Also, if you haven't read this book in awhile, make sure to check out the new edition illustrated by Brett Helquist—of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame.)

And four bonus spooky chapter books that I read in 2011:
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

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Series to Grow Up With
Here are some series with increasingly difficult reading levels that also work well as read-alouds because they are accessible to both children and adults, and they explore issues that promote discussion and help develop connections.

The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

The Austin Family Chronicles by Madeleine L'Engle

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Ender Books by Orson Scott Card

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Jessica Darling by Megan McCafferty

Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer

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Imagine a Winter Wonderland
Celebrate the Season with Picture Books:

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner: While it's sweet and a little sentimental, which tends to appeal to parents, it's also creative and adventurous, which makes it appeal to kids. Even the author notes about the animals' hibernation patterns makes for a fascinating read.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na: I think I've mentioned my love affair with Il Sung Na's work a couple times. It's just so beautifully illustrated using digital technology that you can't help but wonder, "How'd he do that?" On yeah, and kids love its color and simplicity as well.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner: This is my stand-by favorite for the holiday season. The illustrations are vivid and bright, and the text is rhythmic and funny. I get a kick out of this book every time I pick it up.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen: No other book quite captures the magic of a walk in the snow like Yolen's tale, beautifully illustrated by John Schoenherr.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: This book has been the winter-read of choice for more than 50 years. You really can't go wrong with a classic--and the cultural significance of this book makes it a truly historic picture book for any season.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss: Another classic, the Grinch will never get old. And if you can get your hands on the 1966 movie version of the story, you'll enjoy an evening of great music and a faithful recreation of the story.

The Night Before Christmas Pop-up by Clement Clarke Moore and Robert Sabuda: A few years ago I wrote about how much I loved the pop-up version of this story I had as a kid, and I admit that I love this new version just as much even if it doesn't hold the same kind of memories.

Cajun Night Before Christmas by "Trosclair" and James Rice: And of course Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a little bayou adventure. If you can find a really Cajun to read it to you (or even someone who can fake it well enough), all the better.

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A Sick Day for Bookworm
'Tis the season for cold and flu! This past week, I've had a lovely ear, nose and throat infection, so in honor of my sick days, here are a couple of my favorite picture books about being sick:

Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin Stead

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

And here are a couple bonus books for older readers:
An American Plague by Jim Murphy
Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith and Gioia Fiammenghi

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Life After High School
There are millions of people out there who have worried about leaving high school. And a few talented individuals have even written great novels about it. So from one future college student to another, here are some of my favorite books about life after high school. Not all of them are about going to college and dorm life, but all of them give insight into that frightening time we call "after graduation."

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Naomi and Ely have been best friends for ever, but sometimes growing up means moving on from the things you love most.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Ed Kennedy has never had much direction until someone starts leaving him mysterious messages in his mailbox. Messages asking Ed to save the lives of complete strangers.

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley: 23-year-old Scott Pilgrim is stuck in the past and even has a high schooler girlfriend to prove it. Yet when he meets the woman of his dreams, he must face his past to become the man she deserves.

Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty: Life has always been a bit messy for Jessica Darling, and college is turning out no different. Through the ups and downs of academia, Jessica learns that it tends to be our failures that teach us the most.

Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares: As the sisterhood prepares for college, they find that time and distance can't change a friendship built of love.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle: The lives of two recent high school graduates collide in one unlikely moment as a boy who's been so dull that he has nothing but better things to look forward to falls in love with a girl who believes that her best years are behind her.

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Giving History Color
After reading Race in America by Kekla Magoon, I started thinking about how race issues in America have become a lot bgger than black and white. While it's extremely important to learn about history so we can avoid the mistakes of the past, it's probably even more important to be aware of what mistakes are being made today. Here are some contemporary YA novels that address race issues in America:

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

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

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña

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Houses and Homes
In honor of tiny Tumbleweed house I toured, here are some books about houses and homes for all ages:

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

Llama Llama Home with Mama by Anna Dewdney

The House Baba Built by Ed Young

Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery

House of Night Series by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

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