Author Archives : Danielle Hall

Creating an Inclusive Classroom Library


Books can be both mirrors, reflecting students’ lives, or windows into the lives of others. You know the value of creating an inclusive classroom library, but maybe you’re not sure how to start. Our guest today is Dr. Sheila Frye from Teaching Literacy. She’ll share practical tips for auditing what you have, making informed purchasing choices, and thinking critically about…

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10 Halloween Activities for Secondary ELA


Looking for engaging and rigorous Halloween activities for your Secondary ELA classroom? Look no further! These mini-lessons will build close reading skills, practice inferencing, and get students thinking creatively!     Whether you are a Halloween lover or a Halloween tolerate-er, it will be on the forefront of your students’ brains this time of the year. They are likely dreaming…

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The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus feat. L. Sam Smith


Writer & teacher L. Samantha Smith joins us to chat about The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus, a lush, split perspective YA debut. (Transcript)     In today’s episode… The Stars and the Blackness Between Them follows two girls, Audre and Mabel. Audre has just been sent to Minnesota from her home in Trinidad after her…

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LGBTQ Middle Grade Novels


Since we started the YA Cafe Podcast, we’ve gotten a lot of questions around LGBTQ middle grade novels. This means anywhere from 4th-8th grade. Since our show doesn’t always cover this age range, we thought we’d spend some time here talking about it.     Why should I include LGBTQ titles in my classroom library?   My students are too…

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Pet by Akwaeke Emezi feat. H.D. Hunter


This week we’re chatting about Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. Our guest is author H.D. Hunter who has some great insight into this totally unique YA new release. (Transcript)     In today’s episode… Pet by Akwaeke Emezi The people in the town of Lucille know that there are no monsters anymore – not since the angels came and took them…

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15 MORE Songs for the ELA Classroom


Song lyrics can be so versatile in the classroom: Creative writing inspiration, making non-fiction more engaging, etc. Here are 15 more songs to use in ELA, and suggestions on how to use them.   Ask and you shall receive! My other post, 15 Songs to Use in ELA has gotten so much positive feedback that I decided to make a…

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The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert feat. Nikea JaLynn


BookTuber, Nikea JaLynn (cohost of the series #BlackGirlLit), joins us to chat about The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert Dove “Birdie” Randolph has tried hard to live up to her parents’ expectations: she’s at the top of her class, she works hard, and she even…

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Short Stories for High School – YA Anthologies


Are you teaching short stories for high school, and all you have is a dusty anthology of “classic” stories? An easy way to engage students in the form is to incorporate YA short story anthologies! These collections help students discover new authors and genres they can continue to enjoy throughout their lives.     We’ve got some great recommendations of…

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The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee


Stacey Lee does it again! The Downstairs Girl is exactly the kind of historical fiction we need right now. We loved it, and your students will too. (Transcript)         In today’s episode… The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee Being a Chinese American teenager in late 19th century Atlanta isn’t easy, but Jo Kwan has made a life…

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Engaging Reluctant Readers with a Digital Adventure Game


We know that our reluctant readers have a skills deficit that grows over time. Whereas a student may be just one grade level behind in elementary school, that gap can grow if we don’t address the problem. By high school, a student who can’t read at grade level faces significant difficulties across content areas. Moreover, it becomes challenging to find…

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim feat. Maura Milan


Project Runway meets Mulan in the new YA fantasy novel Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. Joining us to chat is author and filmmaker, Maura Milan. (Transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Spin the Dawn, Maia Tamarin wants to be the best tailor in the land but can’t even officially apprentice as a girl. Her brothers have gone off…

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Teaching Executive Functioning with Escape Rooms


Have you been told you should be teaching executive functioning? Is this a totally overwhelming proposition? Where do you even start? Let’s break it down.       Teaching Executive Functioning   Executive Functioning is the complex way the brain ‘works’. We use these skills to make decisions, choices, and plans. When we use strong executive functioning, we work smarter.…

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Wicked Fox & more: Asian American author spotlight

Asian American YA Authors and Protags


How many Asian American YA novels do you have in your classroom library? We recently read Wicked Fox, a new YA urban fantasy by Kat Cho, and we wanted to collect some of our favorite Asian American YA authors and protags to share.     According to a study done by Creative Commons, only 7% of children’s and YA books…

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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay


We are joined by Zshavette, a Pinay bookstagrammer to chat about Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. It’s one of our favorite reads of 2019! (Transcript)     In today’s episode… In Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, we meet Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American teenager. He has mostly maintained his connection to his family in the Philippines through…

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More Diverse YA Novels from the YA Cafe Podcast


From the 17th Century adventures in Lady’s Guide, to the dystopian future predicted in Internment, this list has a book recommendation for every student. Make sure you are subscribed to the podcast so you don’t miss all the great books and guests we have lined up for our next season! 🙂 And if you aren’t already caught up, you can…

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57 Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi feat. Justina Chen

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi feat. Justina Chen


This week we chat with author Justina Chen about Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and of course our featured title, Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi Rachel Recht is the next great filmmaker. At least, she will be as soon as she can…

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TED Talks for Young Writers


Have you ever used videos to inspire your students to write? Here are some TED talks for young writers you’ll be able to use at different moments in your curriculum. As I‘ve mentioned before on this blog, I love the Writer‘s Workshop model! Each day includes a focusing mini-lesson, time to write and ponder, and time to share or conference.…

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56 These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling feat. Jessica Spotswood

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling feat. Jessica Spotswood


Author/editor Jessica Spotswood joins us to chat about the blood witches and bad breakups in These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, a fun YA mystery. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, Hannah Walsh wants to get through her summer breakup, but sharing a coven with her ex-girlfriend Veronica doesn’t make life easy. Hannah…

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Teaching Social Justice with Literature Circles


We read a lot of books with social issues for the YA Cafe Podcast, and I feature a lot of these books on my own Instagram. Because of this, teachers often ask me for resources for teaching social justice books. Today, I want to share some specific resources for teaching social justice literature circles.     Literature circles are classroom…

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LGBTQ+ YA Novels for Pride Month


PRIDE month is almost here! Woo-hoo! In celebration, here are 21 diverse LGBTQ+ YA novels for your high school classroom library, broken down by genre. Building your classroom library to represent more voices is a great way to build empathy, teach peace, and draw in all of your students.   Contemporary LGBTQ+ YA Novels   The Summer of Jordi Perez…

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With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo


  This week we are joined once again by our friend Anna aka @never_withouta_book to discuss Elizabeth Acevedo’s newest book, With the Fire on High. (Transcript)     In today’s episode… With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo  Since getting pregnant at fourteen, Emoni has done everything she could for her daughter and her abuela. Between being a full-time…

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Teaching LGBTQ+ Rights


Teachers on Instagram often ask me for tips on teaching LGBTQ+ rights. You want book recommendations, teaching resources, and ideas for increasing visibility and advocacy. Well, I’m here today to highlight one collaborative resource to get you started.     When my friend, Matt, from Surviving Social Studies shared his LGBTQ Painting Recreation, I knew I wanted to share it…

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The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline


This week we discuss an indigenous #ownvoices novel, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, and how we as teachers can assist with Truth and Reconciliation. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Demaline In a world wrecked by global warming, most people have lost the ability to dream. The state believes the answer to this loss is inside…

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Adding Physical Locks to Escape Rooms


Classroom Escape Rooms are collaborative games that make engaging review activities for students! Students work together to solve puzzles in order to be the first to “escape”. I’ve written a lot about using Escape Rooms in ELA before, and today I want to focus on just one aspect: adding physical locks to Escape Rooms.     Many teachers love the…

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The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala feat. Natasha Deen


Don’t miss this lively chat with author Natasha Deen! She shares about her life and we discuss the new YA fantasy, The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala Esha, the legendary assassin known as the Viper, is on a mission: take down the brutal General Hotha and strike at…

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Teaching The Great Gatsby cov

Teaching the Great Gatsby: Building Background


Teaching The Great Gatsby can be transportive and engaging. Students explore a whole new era (Flappers! Jazz! Speakeasies!) while still making modern-day connections. To get the full impact of this American classic, however, students need to situate it within its historical context.     Building Context: The Post-War Era   Before teaching The Great Gatsby and the quirks of the…

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In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen


Join us this week as we chat about In the Key of Nira Ghani, the story of a Guyanese-Canadian teen who longs to pursue her passion of playing jazz trumpet. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen Nira Ghani feels like she doesn’t fit in in her mostly-white Canadian school. It’s not just that…

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12 Diverse YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels


Many students adore fantasy and sci-fi, but most of our class novel choices are contemporary or historical fiction. Here are some great titles you can add to your classroom library to make sure you’re providing students with well-rounded choices. These diverse ya fantasy and sci-fi novels also feature authors and protagonists from a range of backgrounds and identities.    …

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Pilu of the Woods (and Trauma-Informed Teaching)


Author H.D. Hunter joins Danielle for a discussion of Trauma-Informed Teaching and YA books that touch on grief, like Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Pilu of the Woods is a graphic novel following an episode in Willow’s life after the death of her mother. After Willow gets in a fight with her…

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7 Books for Teaching Poetry cover

7 Books for Teaching Poetry


It’s April so y’all know what that means: National Poetry Month! I have compiled a list below of some books that are sure to interest even the most reluctant poetry readers and included some ideas for how to use them in the classroom. Even though I’ve labeled these as “books for teaching poetry,” they’re also great additions to the classroom…

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