Author Archives : Danielle Hall

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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Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson


A typical Muslim-American teen saves the world (with the help of her teleporting dog), in our 50th episode, Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Kamala Khan is your average Pakistani-American teenager living in Jersey City. She feels her parents’ expectations of…

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Including Superheroes in American Literature


When I took American Literature as a high schooler in 2003, we read a range of texts from colonial accounts to Puritan sermons to stories from the Great Depression. Even as a future English teacher, I hated the class. Where were our nation’s epics? I already viewed Huck Finn as passé and overrated, and The Grapes of Wrath never spoke…

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Internment by Samira Ahmed


Join us this week as we discuss Internment by Samira Ahmed, a gripping book with a dark vision of a future that is too close for comfort. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Internment is a look at a horrifying near-future United States in which Islamophobia and fear-mongering have won. As their freedoms are stripped away, Muslims are registered and eventually rounded…

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Gifts for English Teachers cover

10 Gifts for English Teachers


If you’re looking for a gift for Teacher Appreciation Week or for the beloved English teacher in your life, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a list of ten gifts for English teachers. I’ve chosen a range of items in terms of price, size, and seriousness, so I know you’ll find what you’re looking for. Enjoy!      …

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Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young feat. Amanda K. Morgan


Author Amanda K. Morgan joins us to chat about Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young, a new YA thriller that kept us guessing all the way through! (Transcript)   In today’s episode… In Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young, Philomena is the perfect student at a school that makes perfect girls. Behind her school’s gated walls, girls are…

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Teaching Women's History cover

7 Ideas for Teaching Women’s History


When we arrive at March, we finally talk about teaching Women’s History. Even though it’s something we should integrate all year long (like Black History!), we rush to gather lesson plans in the busiest month of the year. Well, here are ideas you can use year-round to get your students talking and thinking.   Honestly, I used to wonder what…

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Liar by Justine Larbalestier


It’s time for another #throwbackthursday, and this week we are arguing, I mean talking, about Liar by Justine Larbalestier. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Micah Wilkins is a liar, she’ll lie about anything. Not just for personal gain, not just for a good reason, but to see how easily someone falls for the lies that comes easily…

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Teaching Shakespeare with David Rickert cover

Teaching Shakespeare: a Conversation with David Rickert


I love teaching Shakespeare, and I LOVE discovering new and innovative ways to engage students in the material. I’ve talked before about teaching Shakespeare’s language or using abridged versions for in-class productions. I’ve even shared how my 9th graders put on a full production for the middle school! Today, I’m so excited to share about one more way I get…

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon feat. Somaiya Daud


Beware: dragons ahead! Join us as we dive into the epic fantasy world of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, with our guest Somaiya Daud. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is an epic fantasy set in a world with sharp divisions. For those in the West, dragons are their most…

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Teaching Argumentative Writing with Adam Ruins Everything cover

Teaching Argumentative Writing with Adam Ruins Everything


So, you’re teaching argumentative writing again, and you’re looking for something to spice up your unit. I have been there! And I have an idea to share!   Even though they LOVE to argue, teens aren’t always excited to write it down. Their eyes glaze over when you say the word “rhetoric”. I’ve talked before about teaching media literacy and…

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45 We Set the Dark on Fire Tehlor Mejia cover

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia feat. Erin Callahan


Love, lies, and revolution! All of that and more in this week’s featured title, We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, with guest Erin Callahan. (Transcript) In today’s episode… We Set the Dark on Fire provides a dark vision of the island world of Medio where a wall separates the prosperous inner region from the salted, barren…

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15 YA Books about Sports cover

15 YA Books about Sports


When I say that I give my students time for independent reading or that I believe there’s a book for every kid, people invariably ask me for a list of books about sports. Well, here it is, folks! Here are 15 YA books about sports to engage your most reluctant readers!     1. Swing by Kwame Alexander & Mary…

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On the Come Up Angie Thomas cover

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas


Can Bri be true to herself and still make her voice heard? On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is a love song to rap and radical, brave young women. (Transcript)   In today’s episode…   In Angie Thomas’ new book, On the Come Up, Bri Jackson isn’t interested in the prescribed future of college and career her mother has…

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Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig


Teens, drag queens, heists, and hijinks? All of this and more in this week’s title, Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Our book this week is Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig. By day Margo Manning appears to be your average vapid socialite heiress, but by night she is the leader of a highly skilled group…

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


This week it’s a #throwbackthursday as we chat about a book that came out in 2016. The Stonewall Book Award winning, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Today we’re discussing If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Amanda is a normal high school girl and for the first time she’s given the chance to…

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The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe


This week we are joined by our teacher friend Carissa Peck as we chat about The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe. (Transcript) In today’s episode… When Norris’ mother gets a job as a professor in Austin and his father “can’t quite fit a teenager” in the same house as his new wife and baby, Norris…

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In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire feat. Betsy Cornwell


New year, new books! This week we devoured the novella In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire, and had a lovely time chatting with YA author Betsy Cornwell. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Today we chat about In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire. Katherine Lundy is quiet, serious, and studious. She’d rather be reading a book than playing with her…

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2018 Recommendation Round-Up Pt. 2


This is part 2 of our 2018 round-up with recommendations from 15 guests. Today we hear from Lamar Giles, Amanda K. Morgan, Hannah Moskowitz, and more! (Transcript) In today’s episode… Today’s episode will be a little different, this is part 2 of a two-part year in review. We’ve called up some of our writer, reader, and teacher friends to make…

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2018 Recommendation Round-Up Pt. 1


We have something very special for y’all to finish off 2018! In a two-part episode our guests bring 15 recommendations of books that you don’t want to miss. (Transcript)   In today’s episode… Today’s episode will be a little different, this is part 1 of a two-part year in review. We’ve called up some of our writer, reader, and teacher…

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The Disasters by MK England


In The Disasters by MK England we follow four teens on the run. Can they evade the government long enough to stop the terrorists from striking again? (Transcript) In today’s episode… Today we’re discussing The Disasters by MK England. After washing out of flight school in less than a day, wanna-be pilot Nax Hall is dreading his return to Earth.…

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Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton


Today’s episode is perfect for cyberpunk and Sci-Fi fans – join us as we discuss Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton. (Transcript) In today’s episode… Arwen Elys Dayton’s new book Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful is a collection of six stories spanning a couple hundred years of human experimentation with genetic modification. Six teens provide different perspectives…

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The Resolutions by Mia Garcia


Joining us today is friend and writer Samantha Leidig. You may remember her from our first season, and she’s back to discuss The Resolutions by Mia Garcia. (Transcript) In today’s episode… The Resolutions by Mia Garcia. This new year, Jess has a new plan to keep her four best friends together. The four of them will make New Year’s resolutions…

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Land of Permanent Goodbyes Book Review cover

Book Review: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes


A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi   Tareq’s life is hustle and bustle in Syria. He goes to school, comes home to care for his twin baby brothers, and listens to his grandmother’s stories. But in a single moment, a bomb strikes and his world comes crashing down around him. Tareq and his little sister survive and travel…

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Poetry Escape Room grades 4-6

Poetry Escape Room for 4th-6th grades


I’ve talked before about using teaching with puzzles and games and using Escape Rooms in ELA, but I thought I’d address using escape rooms in upper elementary. Our 4th, 5th, and 6th graders can definitely benefit from collaboration and critical thinking, which is why I made a Poetry Escape Room for that level. Check it out:     Some things…

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Pulp by Robin Talley


Pulp by Robin Talley is a moving split perspective window into the lives of two women – 60 years apart – who both seek refuge in their writing. (Transcript) In today’s episode… In Robin Talley’s new book PULP, senior Abby Zimet becomes obsessed with 1950’s lesbian pulp fiction. Though her life is falling apart around her, Abby believes that meeting…

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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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