Fictional Family Troubles For Young Readers

Oftentimes reading about another person in a similar (or worse) situation than your own helps a reader of any age feel less alone and better about their personal situation.  It can also help them process what is happen and deal with their own emotions. While nothing helps more than a solid support system or counseling, reading a book that we can relate to can also do wonders. This is true for the children and teens in our lives, not just for adult readers.

If familythere is something serious going on in the home life of a young child in your life, here are some books they might relate to that could help them know they are not alone. They can also see someone else come to terms with and learn to cope with the same issues with which they are currently dealing. Most of these novels deal with the characters coming to terms with family issues such as separation or divorce, but some also include other family changes or conflicts.

family1Shelved in Childrens:
Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
I, Lorelei by Yeardley Smith
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Sarah Simpson’s Rules for Living by Rebecca Rupp
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner
Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
family2What Would Joey Do? by Jack Gantos
How Tía Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
Your Friend in Fashion, Abby Shapiro by Amy Axelrod
The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell

Shelved in Young Adult:
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
family3Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Far from Fair by Elana K. Arnold
Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester
The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens by Ashley Juergens
Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa
family4Zipped by Laura and Tom McNeal
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

As always, these are just some suggested titles, there was no way to include all the wonderful books out there that might help.  If you have a favorite book that you would suggest on this topic please share it in the comments.

Reads for Students Worried About Fitting In

Everyone faces some level of anxiety about being liked, fitting in, or finding their own place in the world. For children and teens that have just started getting into the swing of school for the year, this is especially true.

fitinThese are some books about children struggling with fitting in and finding their own worth in the face of new situations and bullies. More often than not, our main characters discover that everyone has the same worries and that standing out is not such a bad thing. As a bonus for readers that are not facing some of these fears, reading books about others struggling can help them empathize with siblings or classmates. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinellifitin2
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell
The Detention Club by David Yoo
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yangfitin4
The Loser List by H. N. Kowitt
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart
Warp Speed by Lisa Yee
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Callie’s Rules by Naomi Zuckerfitin6
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Every Soul a Star by Wendy Massfitin7
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

There are so many wonderful books about fitting in and standing out that I only touched the surface here. Do you have a favorite from your childhood, or that you have recently discovered, that you would like to recommend? If so leave the title in the comments so the rest of us can check it out too.

Getting In On The Games – Fiction For and About Gamers

Video games, whether on computers, consoles, tablets, or handheld players are fun diversions for many people of all ages. For serious players the worlds within games offer an escape, communities of like-minded individuals, and mild (or not so mild) obsessions for the players. It is no wonder that authors have used video games as subject matter, setting, plot device, or even characters in their work. Here are some great novels, divided into children’s fiction and young adult fiction, that might particularly appeal to gamers and those that lose them to the games.gamerj1

My Life as a Gamer by Janet Tashjian
Derek Fallon gets the chance of a lifetime when he is asked to test software for new video games, but he soon discovers that his dream job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Game Over, Pete Watson by Joe Schreibergamerj4
When video game obsessed Pete Watson discovers his dad is not only a super-spy but has been kidnapped and is now trapped inside a video game, he has to use his super gaming skills and enter the game to rescue him.

Game On! by D.J. Steinberg
When Old Fogey escapes from prison and creates a video game that physically sucks the players into the game, it is up to Daniel, aka Loud Boy, and his friends to call upon their superpowers to rescue the captured players.

More children’s books that video game fans and players might really enjoy include:The Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen, Deadly Pink by Vivian Vande Velde,Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind by Jeff Miller, Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett, Brainboy and the Deathmaster by Tor Seidler, Herbert’s Wormhole by Peter Nelson, and Game On! by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm.

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Young Adults
Playing Tyler by TL Costa
Tyler MacCandless feels trapped caring for his older brother in rehab and working at gamerya1McDonald’s, until he is introduced to a new video game that could earn him a place in flight school, but may also be very different than it appears.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
Immersing herself in an online role-playing game where she enjoys fantasy heroics, Anda confronts a difficult choice when she befriends a disadvantaged Chinese kid who works illegally to gamerya8collect valuable objects and sell them to other players for real money.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Immersing himself in a mid-twenty-first-century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty, and gamerya4disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world’s creator.

More young adult books that video game fans and players might really enjoy include: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Neuromancer by William Gibson, The Peripheral by William Gibson, For the Win by Cory Doctorow, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card,  In Real Life by Lawrence Tabak, The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, Erebos: It’s a Game: It Watches You by Ursula Poznanski, Epic by Conor Kostick, Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher, and Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff.

Young Adult Books Without Romance

Do you love young adult books but have found yourself bored with the love triangles and angst that comes with the almost constant presence of a complicated love interest? Well, I have gone in search of young adult books that entertain and are romance free! Here are some of the best young adult books that steer clear of the expected traps of young love. Some of these might have some flirting, or some hints of possible romance in the future, but I aimed for the books with no romance at all. This turned out to be a harder list than I nolovechildrenexpected to curate; so if you have additional titles to suggest please share them in the comments. I know I cannot be the only one to notice the lack in this area.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
nolovesabrielSabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.

Here, There be Dragons by James A. Owen
Set in 1917, an undergraduate is given a special book that he is told was the reason for his professor’s murder and so must now protect it with his life as he goes on a journey like no other to places that are only supposed to exist in history and dreams.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Weinnoloveverity
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage and great courage as she relates what she must do to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Leaving the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, Junior struggles to find his place in his new surroundings in order to escape his destiny back on the reservation.

Going Bovine by Libba Braynolovebovine
Dealing with an illness that will soon result in his death, 16-year-old Cam is intrigued by the stories told by an eccentric girl named Dulcie and so is encouraged to go on a wild road trip across America where their search for a special cure will lead them to the strangest places on the map.

For more romance free, or very light, here are some more suggestions; Deadline by Chris Crutcher, Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard, The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, The Alchemyst: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett, Orleans by Sherri L. Smith, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Maze Runner by James Dashner,The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle, Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac, or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

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Young Adult Book Club Picks

Every month there are more and more fantastic young adult books available. There also seem to be more book clubs starting every month. So, lets combine the two. Young adult book clubs can be made up of the supposed target for these books, adults that just love the books, or a combination of the two. A parent/child book club is a great way to start a valuable dialogue, and book clubs for just young adults can keep the love of reading going while adding a possibility of inciting friends of avid readers to join inYABCTREE. Any way you look at it, a book club can be a wonderful thing, as long as the group can decide on the books they want to read and discuss. No matter the demographic of a book club, this is often the hardest part.

So, if you are trying to start a young adult book club, or looking to add some books to your list of possible reads, I have some suggestions for you.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
YABCBOYKirsten and Walk, seventh-graders at an elite private school, alternate telling how race, wealth, weight, and other issues shape their relationships as they and other misfits stand up to a mean but influential classmate, even as they are uncovering a long-kept secret about themselves.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.YABCJ

I Am J by Cris Beam
J, who feels like a boy mistakenly born as a girl, runs away from his best friend who has rejected him and the parents he thinks do not understand him when he finally decides that it is time to be who he really is.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a yabcwinterdeadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel sinceSpeak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.

A Monster Calls by Siobhan Dowd and Patrick Ness
YABCMONSTERThirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill, but an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.

Other highly recommend books for young adult book clubs, serious discussion, or simply enjoying include: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Sold by Patricia McCormick, Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers, Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, London Calling by Edward Bloor, Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Here, There Be Dragons yabcgraveby James A. Owen, The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac, Just In Case by Meg Rosoff, The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas,Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Raven Summer by David Almond, Before I Die by Jenny Downham, Once Was Lost  by Sara Zarr, The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray,or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.