Author Archives : Danielle Hall

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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15 Resources for Teaching about Immigration cover

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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31 The Hate U Give Angie Thomas Book vs Movie cover

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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30 Blanca y Roja Anna-Marie McLemore cover

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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29 Ladys Guide to Petticoats and Piracy Mackenzi Lee cover

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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Real-Life Utopias to Share in the Classroom cov

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 review

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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21 I'm Not Missing Carrie Fountain cover

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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