Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean


This week we are journeying into a rich fantasy world inspired by Japanese folkore. Join us as we chat about Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. (Transcript) In today’s episode … In Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean, Mari’s world is split into two kinds of people—magical creatures and spirits called Yokai, and the humans who oppress and enslave…

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Resources for Teaching About Immigration


Teaching about immigration can be intimidating for a someone without personal experience, but it’s an important topic to tackle with our students. Learning about immigration stories builds empathy and a desire to be a catalyst for positive change. Here are some resources I’ve used in my classroom to spark conversations.   This post uses affiliate links. This doesn’t affect the…

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Salt by Hannah Moskowitz


Sea monsters, pirates, and lost treasure? All of that (and more) awaits you in this weeks episode. Join us as we chat about Salt by Hannah Moskowitz. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Salt by Hannah Moskowitz Monster hunting on a wide ocean is all the Indy knows and he knows that he hates it when his parents vanish on a long hunt.…

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Teaching Photo Analysis to Build Text Connections


If your students struggle making deep connections to a text, look no further than Photo Analysis. Students analyze each photo as a text. You’ll provide students with necessary domain vocabulary and principles, but they’ll learn to trust their intuition and develop confidence as analysts.     Why Photo Analysis?   Photo Analysis is a great introduction to analyzing a wider…

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The Hate U Give: Book vs. Movie


Today we are joined by our bookstagram friends, Anna & Courtney, for a Book vs Movie breakdown of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. (Transcript)     In today’s episode…   In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses the murder of her unarmed friend, Khalil, at the hands of a white police officer. In the…

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30 Diverse YA Novels - YA Cafe Podcast IG

30 Diverse YA Novels – Shelf 1 from the YA Cafe Podcast


We’ve wrapped on our first “shelf” from the YA Cafe Podcast, and we want to give you a complete list of diverse YA novels for the classroom library. We’ve reviewed each of these extensively on our podcast, and given our points of view as teachers AND book addicts. 🙂 And be sure to subscribe to the podcast for more great…

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Blanca & Roja


Anna-Marie McLemore’s Blanca & Roja is a twist on an old tale: two sisters challenge the story they’ve been told, and the roles they’ve been given. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Blanca & Roja is a twist on the classic fairytale, Snow White and Rose Red, and shares the tale of a family under a curse. Unto each generation will be…

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee


In The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, Felicity faces new adventures as she tries to realize her dreams of becoming a doctor. And yes, there are petticoats AND pirates!     In today’s episode…   The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee is the follow-up to her fabulous The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and…

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7 Science Fiction Poems for Secondary ELA


Using science fiction poems (or speculative poems) in the classroom can be a great way for students to build a deeper understanding of the genre. Students often have a very narrow understanding of science fiction (limiting it to perhaps one or two television shows or movies), and we can help them extend this. Additionally, this particular genre will show students…

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7 Real-Life Utopias to Research in Secondary ELA


The Giver. The Hunger Games. Matched. Unwind. Feed. Teaching dystopian literature can be a great way to expose students to types of government and societal control. Dystopian novels often begin with something that seems like a utopia, though. Everything seems great before the protagonist sees the strings that control the system. The Giver seems great until Jonas realizes what’s being…

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Making Successful Book Recommendations


The #1 Thing Students Need to Know When You Recommend a Book   Reggie sits at his desk during SSR, drumming his fingers on the table. He reads for five minutes, but then takes his book back to your classroom library and wants to exchange it for another. It seems like Reggie never gets more than a quarter of the…

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Teaching Shakespeare’s Language: Thou & You


Thou & You: Rank and Emotion   My students know well in advance that I love teaching Shakespeare and drama, so they’re a little surprised when they confront Shakespeare’s language. They always assume I’m some sort of super genius if I can possibly understand that. Who could possibly understand all of those thous and wherefores and yons? Well, I’m not…

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Mirage by Somaiya Daud


Eighteen-year-old Amani has grown up on a poor moon under the rule of an oppressive empire. She dreams of a life where she and her family can safely farm and barter for what they need to survive, and maybe even have a little leisure time left to read her precious poetry. But when Amani is kidnapped and taken to the…

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Toil & Trouble feat. Melissa from @thereaderandthechef


  Join us as we chat with bookstagrammer Melissa Robles about Toil & Trouble, a new YA anthology of stories about witchy women, written by 15 diverse authors.     In today’s episode… Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft  is an anthology of short stories featuring witchy girls. Like Spotswood’s other anthologies, the fifteen tales span the…

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Free Books for the Classroom Library

How to Get Free Books for Your Classroom Library


Build a Classroom Library with FREE Books!   If you want to add new releases to your classroom library without breaking the bank, you’ve come to the right place. It can be a challenge keeping up with new books and is it really worth investing in titles before you even know if your students will like them? In this post, I’ll share…

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Seafire feat. Emily Skrutskie


Today we chat about Seafire by Natalie C. Parker, with YA author Emily Skrutskie. Seafire has kick-ass lady pirates, and tons of action. What’s not to love? (Transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Natalie C. Parker’s new book, Seafire, we are brought into a world where the seas and colonies are under the control of a brutal warlord. The protagonist…

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Fresh Ink feat. Lamar Giles


This week we feature the Fresh Ink anthology, a collection of diverse short stories for a YA audience. Joining us is editor and YA author Lamar Giles. (transcript) In today’s episode…   Fresh Ink: An Anthology is a collection of short stories, a graphic novella, and a never before published play by the legendary Walter Dean Meyers. Thirteen voices, some brand…

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The Forest Queen


  The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell isn’t ‘just’ a Robin Hood retelling, it also serves up strong lady friendships, and a sharp look at power and privilege. (Transcript)     In today’s episode… In The Forest Queen, sixteen year old Silvie has been born into a life of nobility and privilege. She has spent her entire life hating and…

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Lovely, Dark, and Deep


Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen is about one girl’s struggle to find the light, even as her whole world has been plunged into darkness. (Transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Justina Chen’s newest novel, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, Viola Li has her life plan figured out—she wants to become a journalist in the most dangerous parts of…

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15 YA Thrillers for the Classroom Library


Teens love thrillers, and I’m constantly getting asked for recommendations of good young adult books with suspense, mystery, and light horror.   Here are some diverse YA thrillers that you might consider adding to your high school classroom library. As always, please preview these titles for yourself because what flies in my school may not fly in yours. I’ve made…

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When Life Gives You Demons feat. Erin Callahan


Reading, writing, and … exorcisms? That’s all before lunch. YA novelist Erin Callahan is here to chat on When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn. (transcript) In today’s episode… When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn is a new spin on the teenage monster hunter trope. This time, Shelby has been training to be an exorcist, a secret…

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Hullmetal Girls


Emily Skrutskie’s new sci-fi novel Hullmetal Girls is a world of economic inequality, a militarized police force, and humanity’s last breath. (transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Emily Skrutskie’s new sci-fi novel Hullmetal Girls, humanity has spent centuries in a fleet of starships searching for a new planet. We follow two protagonists, one from a background of poverty, the…

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I’m Not Missing


Carrie Fountain’s new book I’m Not Missing is an exploration of friendship, loss, and not repeating the mistakes of the past. (transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Carrie Fountain’s I’m Not Missing, Miranda and Syd are best friends, brought even closer together by their shared trauma of being abandoned by their mothers. When Syd disappears and all Miranda finds…

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Zen and Gone


Zen and Gone by Emily France is a story of sisterhood, self-care, and self discovery (with a side of romance), all set in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Our guest today is writer and blogger Samantha Leidig. (transcript)   In today’s episode… In Zen and Gone by Emily France, we meet sisters Essa and Puck who live in Boulder, Colorado. Essa’s taking the…

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Trail of Lightning


In Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, Maggie the Monster Slayer fights for her life. Are the gods on her side? Sometimes. But her shotgun always is. (transcript)     In today’s episode…   Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse begins the saga of The Sixth World. In this post-apocalyptic landscape, the Dinétah have survived the rising waters of climate change…

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The Art of Escaping


Erin Callahan’s debut novel The Art of Escaping is a fun and fresh read about escapology, testing your limits, and finding  your passion. (transcript)   In today’s episode… The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan is about 17-year-old Mattie, who flies under the radar despite her parents’ push to be more exceptional and well-rounded. The thing is, she’s only ever…

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Mariam Sharma Hits the Road


Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim is a road trip romp about the 3 F’s; friends, family, and fried food. Join us as we chat about this Pakistani-American spin on coming-of-age. (transcript)   In today’s episode…   Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim follows a trio of friends on a summer road trip. Mariam, Ghaz, and…

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How I Resist edited by Maureen Johnson


Words of empowerment and encouragement from thirty amazing creators? Yes, please! In today’s episode, we discuss How I Resist, an activism anthology for teens edited by Maureen Johnson with special guest, educator and activist Chris Peck. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation is an anthology of essays, poems, art, interviews, and…

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Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson


  Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson is a heartbreaking snapshot of children who fall through the cracks. Our Bookstagrammer friends Anna & Courtney return to the show to talk about friendship, family, and gentrification. (Transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Tiffany D Jackson’s newest novel, Monday’s Not Coming, Claudia is the only one who seems to care…

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Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross


In Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross, a gothic classic finds a new home in a shiny research town. Join us as we talk about loyalty, the #metoo movement, and the darkness inside. (transcript)     In today’s episode…   Amy Ross’s novel Jek/Hyde offers a new vision of the gothic novella, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by…

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