These are some of my favorite 2019 titles for those in grades 6-12 (and Adults!). Some work for younger, some for older, so watch the video and/or read the list below for my guidelines.

Side note: you'll get to hear the monthly tsunami warning siren drill since I was recording this outside on the first business day of the month and forgot what time it was. Oh, well. I talked over it.

Books Mentioned in the video: Scythe/The Thunderhead/The Toll by Neal Shusterman Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (grades 5-9, or whoever is reading Ghost by the author)

New Kid by Jerry Craft (grades 4-8)

Stargazing by Jen Wang (grades 4-8) (Plus, The Prince & the Dressmaker, grades 7-12)

Guts by Reina Telgemeier (wherever her books are popular!) Roll With It by Jaime Sumner (grades 5-8)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (grades 5-9)

It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (and Born a Crime. ALL AGES, 6th grade through adult) Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman (6th grade through adult) 1919 by Martin W. Sandler (6th grade through adult) There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (grades 7-12)

Frankly in Love by David Yoon (grades 8-12) Slay by Brittany Morris (grades 8-12) Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (grades 9-12, and adult)

Check out the FULL LIST of gift book suggestions for all ages, PreK-Adult. Uncle Joe? Grandma Joan? Your nephew? Books make great gifts for everyone, especially your own kids, and there is a book for every reader on the list. And for every occasion. Also, if you have kids of your own and you plan on getting their teacher(s) a gift this holiday season, consider a monetary (gift card) donation to help them add to their classroom library. We love new books, and so do the students we teach!

Missed the previous posts and need more book suggestions? Holiday Reads Hawaii Life

Elementary (PreK-4th) Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

#FridayFive #newbooks #highschool #middleschool #yalit #nonfiction #memoir #graphicnovel #awardwinner #giftbooks #booksmakegreatgifts #mrsyuskoreads #booksuggestions

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

December marks the holiday vacation season also. If you cannot come visit me in Hawaii for the holidays, I'm highlighting some books today to get you in the ALOHA spirit. Think sunshine, surf, and relaxation as you head toward winter break.

These are just a few of my favorite books to introduce readers of all ages to Hawaii life and history. Watch the video below (or see the list of books mentioned).

Books Mentioned in the video: Duke Kahanamoku (You Should Meet series) by Laurie Calkhoven and Stevie Lewis (Grades 1-4) Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe and Richard Waldrep (Grades 1-5) Dude! by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat (Grades PreK-2nd, and up for using in class) Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Grades 8-12) Molokai by Alan Brennert (Adults) Aloha Rodeo by David Wolman (Adults, and interested high school) Three Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway (Adults, and interested high school) Eddie Would Go by Stuart Holmes Colman (Adults, and interested high school)

Finding My Voice by Mike Reilly (Adults, and interested high school)

Click here for the FULL LIST of gift book suggestions for all ages, PreK-Adult. Uncle Joe? Grandma Joan? Your nephew? Books make great gifts for everyone, especially your own kids, and there is a book for every reader on the list. Also, if you have kids of your own and you plan on getting their teacher(s) a gift this holiday season, consider a monetary (gift card) donation to help them add to their classroom library. We love new books, and so do the students we teach!

In the meantime, this Friday Five will help you kick off your holiday shopping. Or vacation planning?! #yourewelcome Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

#FridayFive #newbooks #highschool #yalit #nonfiction #memoir #picturebook #kidlit #elementary #giftbooks #booksmakegreatgifts #mrsyuskoreads #booksuggestions #hawaiilife #hawaii

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

The holiday gift-giving season is upon us, and the countdown to winter break is...




For this week's Friday Five, I am highlighting some of my favorite 2019 holiday-themed picture books. They would make great #classroombookaday read alouds with your students of all ages, picture books to share with your family, or gift giving.

Side note: Find out why you should follow Dan Santat on social media this holiday season.

Books Mentioned in the video: The Great Santa Stakeout by Betsy Bird and Dan Santat Dasher by Matt Tavares (Also, Red & Lulu) The Crayons' Christmas by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis Between Us and Abuela by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios Finding Narnia by Caroline McAlister and Jessica Lanan Fry Bread by Kevin Noble-Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal Freedom Soup by Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcantara

Stay tuned next week when I'll post the FULL LIST of gift book suggestions for all ages, PreK-Adult. Uncle Joe? Grandma Joan? Your nephew? Books make great gifts for everyone, especially your own kids, and there is a book for every reader on the list. Also, if you have kids of your own and you plan on getting their teacher(s) a gift this holiday season, consider a monetary (gift card) donation to help them add to their classroom library. We love new books, and so do the students we teach!

In the meantime, this week's Friday Five will help you kick off your holiday reading. Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

#FridayFive #newbooks #highschool #middleschool #yalit #nonfiction #memoir #picturebook #kidlit #elementary #giftbooks #booksmakegreatgifts #mrsyuskoreads #booksuggestions

I hope that your summer was restful, relaxing, rejuvenating... everything that you needed it to be. And that you read a good book or two, or 12! Mine wasn't necessarily restful since I feel like my life is crazier now than ever, but I did manage to go social media silent for most of August which felt great.

Whether you have been back in school for over a month like my own daughter (fingers crossed for a great SENIOR YEAR), or for two weeks like the school I'm working at, or you start after Labor Day, I wish you a great 2019-2020 school year, filled with BOOKS for you and your students!

I have resources to help you now and throughout the year. Here are some tools to gear up for a great year of READING:

1) I have posted my Back to School Booktalk Videos for 2nd-12th grades here and on TPT. These 25 - 35 minute videos are great to get your students excited about reading this school year! If you are not a paid subscriber to MrsYuskoReads, then you can find them on my TPT site. The bundle of all the videos PLUS a FREE 30 minute PD video of best new Picture Books for all grades is ON SALE NOW!

Already a subscriber? You have FREE access to all of them here, choose "subscriber webinars" and login.

Want to become a subscriber? Click here for the details!

2) Missed my Summer Reading suggestions for all grades? Never fear! Reading doesn't just happen in the summer and these lists contain great new books for your students. Feel free to copy and distribute as needed! I have posted my Booklists for all grade levels (PreK-12th...and adult!) on my website, including Top 10 picks for Elementary, Middle School, and High School. Or email me and I can send them to you.

3) Everyone has access to my Best New Picture Books for all Grades (K-12) video! This 30 minute video highlights some of the best new picture books of 2019 that you will want to read aloud, have in your classroom library, use to introduce curriculum, or read for #classroombookaday. This video is designed as PD, to show your staff to help them keep current on the best new picture books to be used in the classroom. Picture books are not just for the youngest students. Most of the books mentioned can be read aloud to all grades, while a few are actually better suited for use in middle/high school classes.

Watch a 10 minute sample of this video below, which highlights the best Back to School Picture Books. The FREE full-length video (about 30 minutes) can be found on my website, or on TPT.

Happy reading!

#backtoschool #bestbooks #newbooks #mrsyuskoreads #booktalks #teachers #librarians #elementary #middleschool #highschool #yalit #kidlit #picturebooks

Or, what happens in 6th period stays in 6th period.

So, my first ever class of seniors have graduated and I poured my heart and soul (and the blood of many paper cuts) into making them book page graduation garlands. It was a labor of love for a class that I was truly blessed to teach this year.

At first, I was hesitant to teach seniors as I considered myself strongly in the role of middle school educator. But I've taught everything from K-9th grade, and it was only for one class period/day so I thought, why not?!

I am so glad that I did. I have posted several times this year about this class. What started out as a class of predominately non-readers, turned into a class of thoughtful, engaged READERS!

Here are some highlights of our year together:

1) "WHY DOES MY SCHEDULE SAY LITERATURE FOR MY ELECTIVE?!" Yes, this is how I was greeted on day one by many students who were forced to be in the class because they needed to recover a literature credit. I was scared that this did not bode well for our time together.

2) "What happens in 6th period, stays in 6th period." While I'm still a little disappointed we did not make class shirts with this slogan, this quickly became our class motto. "We" discovered that reading was FUN and that our class dynamic was great for discussion and they didn't want it disrupted by late-semester transfers once word got out that they were in the "best elective." (Okay, we weren't really this mean and would have welcomed other students, but the school didn't allow schedule changes anyway, so if was fun to pretend we were a secret club).

3) Breakup with a Book. By far, one of the best in-class activities I have ever done!

4) They started recommending books to their friends in other classes! You can see their Top 10 picks for High School readers here.

5) Book Character TED Talks: Every Tuesday was TED Talk Tuesday in our class. (As spring progressed, this turned to commencement speeches by authors). For their final reflection project, I had them pick a character from one of the books they read and outline a TED Talk they would give. WOW! So impressed with the reasons they picked and what they thought those characters would say.

6) Watching the students identify as READERS! Just one example: the girl who started out proud that she "hadn't read a book since 4th grade" was so proud every time she finished a book (which at last count was 10 or 11 books for spring semester) that she would announce loudly "Ms. Butler, I just finished another book!" every time the principal walked by the classroom. She was only partially finished with Sarah Dessen's "Saint Anything" on the last day of classes and did nothing but read during our class party, so I let her take it home to finish with the promise that she attempt to return it at some point as it was my own personal copy. (FYI, she returned it to the school today). She would always joke, "Mrs. Yusko, I'm your success story, right?" Without prompting, during one of our final Free Read Fridays, they started an informal discussion about how their views on reading had changed over the course of our class. I sat off to the side and listened. One young man in class turned to me and said, "Mrs. Yusko, I bet this makes you happy to hear." #myworkhereisdone

7) We don't teach for the glory, and definitely not for the paycheck, but when you receive heartfelt notes (and emails) from students, it's ALL WORTH IT. #whyiteach #imnotcryingyourecrying

No really, THANK YOU! It's been one of my favorite classes in my entire teaching career.

#contemporarylit #highschool #teaching #whyiteach #myworkhereisdone #reading #classroom #whyiteachtuesday

Besides talking about books at my #yalit seminars, I also share real-world examples of student success stories, classroom activities, and how I incorporate and promote reading during the school day.

I can talk about the importance of CHOICE reading ad nauseum, and could probably write a dissertation on the topic at this point. So instead, I thought I would focus this post on student responses to reading. One of the questions I get asked frequently is "how do you know if they've read the book?" I'm going to be honest, READING is the point of the class for me and what I consider the most important. But you're right, schools require us to grade something, and since I hate reading logs, here are some ideas that I do throughout the year.

1) Free Read Friday: Barring assemblies, field days, or standardized testing, our Fridays are spent READING! As long as students are on task, we spend the 45-ish minutes of class "silent" reading. (All of us...teacher included). First of all, I will fight any administrator that says this is a waste of time. Luckily I don't have to at my school. Now, before you think that I've cracked the code to keep a class full of teenagers silent, on task, and reading for 45 minutes, I haven't. Fridays are days where I have reading conversations with students, do formal and informal booktalks as needed, give students the opportunity to write book reviews and tell other students about what they're reading, and more. Of course, the majority of the time is spent reading, and I'll be honest, most of my students honor this time and their classmates by finding a place to relax and read. I think most of them appreciated the "break" from the stresses of other classes. Do students get off task? Sure. Are there students who don't read? Sometimes. But as with any classroom, you deal with that as necessary.

2) Reading Response Projects: Besides informal conversations, book reviews, and the occasional in-class on-demand writing prompt, students are required to complete a "project" after their reading. (Middle school and high school had different guidelines for number of books read vs projects completed but every one had to complete at least a few each semester). At the start of the year I offered students a list of choices for these projects as well as guidelines/rubrics. They included anything from one-pagers, book commercials, and poetry journals... to comic strips, quote posters, and Snapchat stories. Here are a few samples of my high school class' projects this spring:

Digital art representing Moxie by Jen Mathieu

One pager for Samurai Rising by Pamela S. Turner

One pager for The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die by April Henry

Comic strip for a poem in The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Quote poster for Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Playlist for The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Part of the script of a book commercial for The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

Comic Strip for Treasure Island

Persuasive presentation on why I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is the "best book ever."

3) Student Created Projects: Besides giving them a list of acceptable project ideas, I invite students to come up with their own (teacher-approved) ideas for projects that demonstrate reading. This is how, for the last project of the year, I was convinced by my seniors to let them bring in food that represented their book (because yes, they wanted a class party and we weren't technically allowed to have one). Let me tell you, the level of thought that went into these food choices was TERRIFIC and definitely showed their comprehension of the books.

4) Volunteering at Literacy Events: True, it's voluntary and not graded, but I encourage my students to volunteer at our monthly Feed n Read events. This is a great opportunity for younger students in our community to interact with teens and tweens and to have positive, shared reading experiences. It has the added benefit of being an enjoyable experience for my students as well. I always offer the option to trade out one "assignment" per semester in exchange for volunteering at one event. Let's be real, life gets busy, and there are a myriad of reasons why students may not be able to complete an assignment. But our Feed n Reads always need volunteers and the younger kids LOVE reading with the teens so it's actually a win for more than just me. And most of my students that volunteer come each month, not just the one time...proof that they secretly enjoy reading with the kids.

5) Book Character TED Talk: We did TED Talk Tuesday in our classroom each week. You can read more about that here. As a final project, I had my Contemporary Lit students choose a book character (from a book they read this year) that they would want to give a TED Talk, and then outline the key points or message that would be included. Again, WOW! I received some amazing responses. Definitely an assignment I'm keeping in the rotation.

What are some of your favorite reading-related classroom activities?

#classroom #contemporarylit #studentchoice #choicereading #TEDTalk #FeednRead #studentwork #highschool #middleschool #reading #freereadfriday

Updated: May 23, 2019

Monday was the last day with my senior Contemporary Lit class. While I'm still trying to unpack what an amazing experience it was to teach this group (and how much I'm going to miss our 6th period class), I thought I would highlight their TOP BOOK PICKS for the year.

If you haven't been following along with us, this was a very unique class. I will reflect more on our time together in a future post (or twelve), probably on the eve of their graduation ceremony this weekend. Until then, here are some things you need to know about them to understand just how important it is that they are recommending books!

1) At the start of the class, only 3 of them were in it by choice.

2) Many of the students were in the class in order to recover a literature credit before graduation.

3) Most of class did NOT identify as readers initially. In fact, some of them were quite proud of the fact that it had been years since they actually read a book.

Welcome to my 6th period!

But they came in with open minds, and we talked, and we read, and there was access to books, and there was CHOICE.

And they READ! And they RECOMMENDED books to friends in other classes.

And their teacher may have teared up on more than one occasion. And so, we present their picks for the "Best Books" for High School Readers. In no particular order...

1) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. This book made the rounds in the classroom; boys, girls, EVERYONE. (No joke, I think I have photos of about 40% of the class reading this book at some point). Students judged other students for “judging the book by its cover.” We had impromptu class discussions about it. One young man used this book as his final reflection project: “What character would you want to give a TED Talk?”

2) Scythe by Neal Shusterman. In all the years I’ve taught (20!), I’ve never had a student finish a book out of spite. One young man, who ”likes Sci-Fi and Fantasy” finished a book (which shall not be named) that I recommended to him SOLELY so he could tell me how “cliche” it was. Again, welcome to my 6th period. I recommended 3 other titles which he abandoned after a few chapters. And then my brain actually started to function and I handed him Scythe! WHY DIDN’T I START WITH IT?! He blew through this book and the second one in a week. He called it “my all-time favorite” in his final reflection. On the last day of class I got to show him the cover and sneak peek of book #3!

3) I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. One student did a 14 slide PowerPoint presentation about why this book is “amazing!”

4) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Between the print and audio version of this book, I’d say that 25% of the class read this one. And encouraged others outside our class to read it as well. This one also sparked some great projects and one student wants Xiomara to give a TED Talk.

5) ALL the books by April Henry! No one got my students reading this semester more than April Henry. Her books made the rounds in and out of our class, and cost me quite a bit of my Scholastic bonus points so I could keep her books on our shelves! Worth. It. Artwork, impromptu class discussions, and more became a part of our class. See previous post here.

6) ALL the books by Jenny Han! Oh the joy when I walked in to class one day and several students were discussing the Netflix adaptation of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I simply said, “you know it’s a book, right? Actually, it’s a trilogy.” And so, all three books were promptly finished!

7) ALL the books by Sarah Dessen! See #6 for how they found Sarah Dessen. After devouring Jenny Han, I may have dropped hints about the amazingness that is Sarah Dessen. I’d say they’ve made it through 3 of her books and are planning on reading the rest OVER THE SUMMER!

8) Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. (And Ghost). Talk about impromptu discussion and debate. Long Way Down definitely did that! This was one that they also recommended to friends outside the classroom. (I added Ghost by Reynolds to the list as I started the year with 10 copies of it in my classroom library and I currently have NONE).

9) Moxie by Jen Mathieu. This was a much needed book for several students in class at a time when they were suffering through a “World View” class that was anything but worldly in the viewpoints being discussed. #moxiegirlsfightback

10) Does the teacher get a vote? I say yes. So, my dear 6th period, this is the book that each of you will receive from me. With PAGES of my favorite quotes marked (with bookmarks, because I'm not a heathen who dog-ears pages). For Every One by Jason Reynolds.

“Dreams don’t have timelines,


and aren’t always in

straight lines.



This letter is for us all,

to remind us

that we are many.

That we are right

for trying.

That purpose is real.

That making it is possible.”

What are the most popular books at your high school?

Do you have a favorite book on this list?

Happy Reading!

#yalit #highschool #contemporarylit #classroom #booklist #top10 #favorites #bestbooks #studentfavorite #bookaccess #choicereading

It's the madness that is May: you survived testing season only to be rewarded with too many things to do before summer vacation and not enough days left in the school year. I feel your pain! (For those of you that get out of school in June, please just procrastinate reading this post until then).

Are you looking to get your kids excited about READING this summer? Don't have time to read all the books yourself? Looking for a way to promote good books to your students in a limited amount of time? I've got you COVERED!

Every year I create Summer Reading Booktalk videos for some of my teacher friends. This year I thought, why not make these available to anyone that's interested? So, over the weekend I recorded four videos, highlighting good books for various grade levels that your students will want to read this summer! If you already have a subscription to MrsYuskoReads, you can access all of them for FREE immediately. Click here, choose "subscriber webinars," and login with your email. They can be found under "Subscriber Booktalks." ENJOY!

Videos range in length from 16:00-35:00 minutes (depending on grade level) and can be shown in class or uploaded to your Google classroom. They are designed for students "graduating" from the grade levels listed below, but depending on your readers they might find books of interest in the one above or below. You know your audience best. You can choose from:

2nd-4th Grades

5th- 7th Grades

8th - 9th Grades

High School

Not a subscriber? You can join now and get immediate access to all of these videos, plus past webinars on best new books.

OR... I've made the 2nd-4th Grade one available for free to here (you'll find it under "Booktalks") or scroll down.

OR...You can purchase individual videos on my TPT site. I've also bundled all four together, but feel free to contact me for a special bundle price if you only want two of them. Stay tuned for "Are You Summer Reading Ready, Part 2" later this week where I'll post my FREE Summer Reading Suggestions Book Lists for all ages, PreK- ADULTS! Can't wait? Click here and see last year's lists. Print, post, share WIDELY!

Happy reading! See you soon with more to help you get Summer Reading READY.

#summerreading #bestbooks #newbooks #mrsyuskoreads #booktalks #teachers #librarians #elementary #middleschool #highschool #yalit #kidlit

Updated: May 17, 2019

In honor of Teacher Appreciation AND the fact that I just finished my LAST #yalit seminar of the 2018-2019 school year, I've lowered the price of several resources and created a sale bundle on my TPT site.

You can get my "What's New in YA Lit" seminar handbook (all 200+ pages of it) as a PDF (sorry, I'm not killing any more trees) for $29 right now! I've also bundled this handbook, the seminar presentation slides, and a Kid Lit bibliography for $32.30. Check out my TPT store here!

I've lowered the prices on all of my handbooks, highlighting the best books of 2018, 2017, and 2016. Buy the current one, buy all 3... this is a great time to get them.

Happy reading!

PS: The 2019 "Best New Books" handbook will go live at the end of 2019. Stay tuned.

#seminar #bestnewbooks #handbook #teacherspayteachers #mrsyuskoreads #middleschool #highschool #yalit #teachers #librarians

Updated: May 7, 2019

Each week in my high school Contemporary Lit class this semester we have "TED Talk Tuesday." It is a chance for my seniors to hear ideas outside of our classroom, and is a fairly informal class day for us.

Most of the TED Talks are around 20 minutes and I post them directly to our Google classroom so that students can watch on their own devices. Sometimes I post specific questions I want them to think about and respond to, but often I simply want their reaction/response to what was said. Do they agree or disagree? What were their takeaways? What did they learn?

Since we are a literature class, I have focused our TED Talk choices on ones given by authors. For this Friday Five, I thought that I would highlight our 5 favorite ones this semester, or at least the ones that prompted the most discussion/reaction (in no particular order).

1) Mac Barnett: Why a Good Book is a Secret Door

2) Gene Luen Yang: Comics Belong in the Classroom

3) Grace Lin: The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child's Bookshelf

4) Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

5) Kwame Alexander: The Power of Yes

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? Do you use TED Talks in your classroom?

#contemporarylit #highschool #tedtalks #classroom #authors #fridayfive

If you follow me on social media, or here on the blog, you know that I'm currently teaching a Contemporary Lit class of high school seniors. And I love every minute of it.

This is a class that started out with 3 avid readers, and the rest of the students were shocked to find out that their schedule included a "literature" class on it. Many failed a semester of Literature at some point in their high school career, and were proud of the fact that they didn't read.

One girl remarked at the start of the semester, "Mrs. Yusko, I haven't read a book since 4th grade." (Please don't even get me started on that one).

But I am happy to report that they are READING! And as we wrap up April, here are the most popular books with this group:

1) ANYTHING by April Henry! I haven't seen any of my classroom library copies of her books in months, and I even purchased a few more for those that were patiently waiting. Ms. Henry has done so much for growing readers in this class.

2) We are currently having a classroom "discussion" about which is the best John Green book: Looking for Alaska is taking on An Abundance of Katherines. It has been a little heated, but most of us agree that if you say TFIOS, then you aren't a true John Green fan :) (FYI: Mrs. Yusko falls strongly in the Abundance of Katherines camp).

3) The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is making the rounds in class. Girls AND boys are reading this one. And it has led to several great discussions, including "don't judge a book by it's cover." This book is one of my Top 10 picks of 2018 and I ADORE everything about it. I'm so glad my students are enjoying it as much as I did!

4) The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Several students have read this one and have created fantastic response projects. The audio of this one is great (read by the author), and we are currently looking forward to her new book which comes out next week!

Have you read any of these? What are your students reading?

#whatimreading #wednesdayreads #yalit #contemporarylit #highschool #favoriteauthor #fiction

When you hit the high school teaching trifecta and your class of seniors meets:

1) the last period of the school day +

2) the day before what is basically a 5 day weekend for them +

3) on Valentine’s Day =

...yep, definitely time to ditch formal lesson plans and go for Anti-Valentine’s Day activities!

Does it make me a bad person that the homework to prep for Thursday’s class was to “think of a book you didn’t enjoy reading. And bring your snark...”?! 🤣 What can I say, that’s just who we are as a class.

So, the assignment on Valentine’s Day was to “break up with a book you didn’t like.” Text, tweet, Dear John-esque letter, poster, whatever they felt could best convey their (school-appropriate) opinions. One young woman did a FIVE SLIDE POWERPOINT PRESENTATION!

Let‘s be honest, we all have books that we didn’t like. Or memories of having to read that one book in high school that just made us miserable every day we had to sit in class and discuss it. For whatever reason, the book(s) just didn’t “click” with us...we weren’t a good match. Giving my students the chance to acknowledge this was actually a positive experience for all involved.

Yes, I did give them some initial guidelines (no, you can’t just say, “you suck”), and I encouraged them to compare it to a book or genre they do like. Here‘s what we learned:

1) it really is okay not to like a book. Even if others in the class, or your friends, or even your teacher liked the book.

2) they really enjoyed talking about the books both good and bad and comparing reading experiences.

3) understanding what they didn’t like has helped them pinpoint what they do like to read...and why.

(In addition to all of these, this teacher learned that all of them took the same World Lit class as Freshmen and had to read Tolstoy. And, not surprisingly, they all say that was the worst book they read that year. Excuse me while I check on the required reading lists for all classes...)

Some examples of their breakups: (I tried my best to protect the title of the book being dumped. Except for Tolstoy).

“...reading you was the visual equivalent of chewing on tin foil...”

”I had such high hopes for you because the first book was amazing...”

”The cliche setup and predictability brought down a fastastic story idea.”

“We need to break up. Your personality is as boring as unseasoned steak.”

”I fell in love with the Matched Trilogy by Ally instead because it was everything I wanted from a series.”

And, because I was inspired by Tracee Orman’s Rejected Candy Hearts assignment (available on TPT), after they were done dumping their book, they could write some (SCHOOL APPROPRIATE!) rejected candy hearts. Some of them are pretty funny.

Do you have any good middle school or high school Valentine’s activities?

Or books that you want to break up with?

#highschool #contemporarylit #yalit #reading #books #valentinesday #activities #letterstoabook #fridayfunny

I have long been a fan of your books.

When I worked in a junior high/middle school library, I purchased multiple copies of all of your books. I’d say that they took up at least two shelves, except the books were never on those shelves. (Well, maybe during summer break). All I had to do was booktalk one of the titles the first month of school, and presto! Word of mouth kept them checked out all year long.

When I present #bestbooks seminars around the country, I encourage teachers and librarians from 6th-12th grades to make sure to always have your books on hand for all types of readers.

I have had multiple students over the years tell me that reading one of your books turned them into readers.

Well, you’re at it again...turning students into readers!

This semester I’m teaching a high school (seniors) Contemporary Literature class. It started out 1/3 book nerd, and 2/3 ”why do I have to take an elective that says LITERATURE?!?!” While they can choose what they want to read, I’m asking them to read 6 books this semester. We discussed my desires as a teacher versus their desires as students during spring semester and decided this was a doable number of books for everyone in class.

Our first book project was due on Monday. One of the students (the only ESL student in class) read The Girl I Used to Be (and did this “movie poster” as her project). On Tuesday, when I asked students how they felt about their first book, she spoke about how much she LOVES your books (and she rarely speaks up in class). Since it was then time to pick their next book, three other students raised their hand and said, “can we read an April Henry book?” Luckily I happened to have just that many in my classroom library. (Moves across an ocean have vastly depleted my supply...thank goodness for Scholastic book orders!).

Today, one of those three students came into class and said, “Mrs. Yusko, I’ve already finished this book! I couldn’t stop reading! I’ve never done that before. These books make me want to read the next chapter, and the next chapter, and the next chapter. Is there a sequel?” (Luckily she was reading Girl, Stolen and there is! We have to order it ASAP).

So, THANK YOU, April Henry for making this literature teacher's Thursday a good one! And giving us your stories that spark a love of books (and reading) for so many students.

With gratitude,

Shauna Yusko

PS: Friday update: your latest book arrived last night and I just made someone’s day by bringing it to class so she could be the first to read it! The girl who did the movie poster and sparked the class interest in your books was SOOOOOO happy she will get to read this book over the weekend.

#yalit #author #letter #highschool #newbooks #favorites #studentchoice #whyiteach #bestbooks

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

#whyiteach Tuesday:

Short version: seeing a group of seniors change their opinion on books and reading! Longer version: This semester I added a high school Contemporary Lit class to my teaching schedule. And I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant at first. I was told it would probably be all seniors who (a) didn’t have another elective option, and/or (b) might even need the literature credit to graduate. Not the ideal classroom makeup for a “reading is fun,” “we love books” type of discussion class that I had envisioned in my dreams.

Well, I’m 3 weeks in, and I have to say that I enjoy every minute I get to spend with these sharp, witty, insightful teens. The class makeup initially was 1/3 #booknerd and 2/3 “why does my elective say LITERATURE?!" But with #booktasting (pictured here), finding space in my borrowed classroom to set up a #classroomlibrary, #classroombookaday, reading aloud, and the freedom to CHOOSE what they want to read, we are slowly turning all of them into READERS!

We’ve had great discussion on reading for school vs reading for pleasure, discovering what type of books they enjoy and the environment in which they read best, and why it’s okay to stop reading a book they don't like... well, unless it's assigned, but that's an entirely different topic, and goes along with this video:

I’ve got big plans for this class...stay tuned for more updates!

#classroom #whyiteachtuesday #highschool #contemporarylit

Here are some of our favorite read-alouds from the last couple of weeks!

1) Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith.

If this isn’t an ode to angsty, eye-rolling teenagers on a Friday, I don’t know what is. I read this to my Contemporary Lit class of seniors and their commentary and asides were fantastic. And I’m going to be honest, we have at least one such “penguin” in the class.

Over the the weekend I discovered ”Giraffe Problems” by the same duo. I’ve already put a hold on it! Cannot wait to compare/contrast!

2) How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios

I‘m also teaching a middle school Makerspace elective this semester so I used this one after we had learned and before logging in to for the first time. It may be geared to young elementary but it did help reinforce concepts for the MS students in a humorous way.

3) Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

We have read many books by Reynolds for #classroombookaday, and this was just the latest. This one REALLY helped reinforce growth mindset, thinking outside the box, and not listening to negative comments (and, of course, not saying negative things to our classmates).

Do you participate in #classroombookaday? What are some of your favorite ones to read and share with students?

Picture books = for kids of ALL ages!

#picturebooks #middleschool #highschool #kidlit #picturebooksintheclassroom #readaloud

I enjoy using this interactive magnetic poetry device from Read.Write.Think. I usually introduce my classes to it in January when we incorporate books about Martin Luther King Jr. and his "I Have a Dream" speech.

I have students create their own original poem (story, thought, sentence) using the words from Dr. King's speech (it is one of the Famous Speeches that students can use as a word bank). There are also options to add your own words and create your own word bank. Students can also change the font color, size, and poem background to reflect the theme/mood/tone of their writing.

I have students email me their final product and then we print and display in class.

While we use the online version (which I send a link to), it is also available as an app in the iTunes and Google Play stores. For a low tech version of our activity (which I’ve actually done when the Internet wasn’t working), you can give students a printout of the speech, or a page from any book, and encourage them to cut out the words and manipulate it just like magnetic poetry.

Enjoy playing with words!

Here are are some samples from my middle school and high school students:

#classroom #technology #poetry #techtidbit #middleschool #highschool

Or in this case, the dedication is the hook!

Yesterday, one of my senior Contemporary Lit students mentioned her frustration at the portrayal of “feminism” she encountered in another class. From the textbook to classroom discussions that disparaged and even wrongly defined the term. (She’s actually so angered, she’s composing a letter to the textbook author. Which is epic on so many levels). So, I think this book by Jen Mathieu is JUST what we need!

From the opening dedication, to the very last word on the last page, I love #moxie! It was one of my Top 10 books for High School in my #yalit seminars.

But now I’m off to buy more copies because I definitely have some students who must read it immediately!


#bookstotherescue #highschool #contemporarylit #theresabookforthat #firstchapterfriday

Updated: Mar 25, 2019

Tomorrow is the first day of December, and the holiday season is upon us! Not to mention, many of us are using our Funko Pop Harry Potter advent calendar to countdown to the start of winter break. (So. Close. We got this!)

For this week's Friday Five, I thought I would stray from the "Five" formula just a bit. I give you 12 of the books on my Holiday Gift List, from picture book to my favorite adult memoir. And I'm definitely going well over the 5:00 minute time limit.

Stay tuned next week to the website and I'll post the FULL LIST of gift book suggestions for all ages, PreK-Adult. Uncle Joe? Grandma Joan? Your nephew? Books make great gifts for everyone, especially your own kids, and there is a book for every reader on the list. Also, if you have kids of your own and you plan on getting their teacher(s) a gift this holiday season, consider a monetary (gift card) donation to help them add to their classroom library. We love new books, and so do the students we teach!

In the meantime, this week's Friday Five will help you check off some of your holiday shopping list. Happy Reading and Happy Holidays! #FridayFive #newbooks #highschool #middleschool #yalit #nonfiction #memoir #picturebook #kidlit #elementary #giftbooks #booksmakegreatgifts #mrsyuskoreads #booksuggestions

This week marked the start of award season...National Book Award season. The National Book Foundation announced their longlist (the Top 10) in several categories this week, including Young People's Literature. It is an outstanding list this year, and will be tough to choose a winner. But I decided to give it a go in this week's episode and I offer you my five favorite books from the 2018 longlist. For a full-list of the this year's nominees in all the categories, visit the National Book Foundation website. Happy Reading and enjoy the weekend! #nationalbookawards #FridayFive #awardwinners #newbooks #highschool #middleschool #yalit #nonfiction #memoir

Links to the 2018 books I highlighted: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka Boots on the Ground by Elizabeth Partridge We'll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss Past books I mentioned: March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell Ghost by Jason Reynolds Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

It's Friday, and that means it's time for Friday Five. This week, I thought I would highlight the 5 books in my car. But let's be real, there's more than 5 books in my car. I'm on my way to school, where I'm booktalking to high school students all my regular middle school classes. Happy Aloha Friday and happy reading!

Here's a list of the books mentioned in the video: The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Candlewick. K-5th grades. Fireboat by Maira Kalman. GP Putnam Books for Young Readers. K-3rd grades. I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoet. Schwartz & Wades. K-2nd grades. See You on a Starry Night by Lisa Schroeder. Scholastic Press. 4th-7th grades. Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury. Wendy Lamb Books. 7th-10th grades. Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough. Feiwel & Friends. 7th-adult. #fridayfive #kidlit #picturebooks #yalit #booktalks #middleschool #highschool


Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

Laurie, Librarian, IL

GREAT SEMINAR! Shauna was fantastic. My booklist is overflowing and I can't wait to share these books with students, and educate my teachers.

Julia, School Librarian, PA

I can't wait to get these books into the hands of my students!

Chad, LA Teacher, IL

Shauna reinforces the idea that there are two types of students: those who like to read and those who haven't found the right book yet. She offers a plethora of resources and titles for both!

Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

Guadelupe, Teacher, CA

The knowledge and passion for books for EVERY reader  has hooked me! She is in the classroom and just gets readers.

Dee, Teacher-Librarian, CA

Wowza! One of the best, packed workshops, filled with RELEVANT content, delivered in a well organized, engagingly paced seminar. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to librarians and lovers of literature.

Lindsey, English Teacher, TX

Excellent content, EXCEPTIONAL presenter! The entire presentation was engaging and meaningful. I am excited to have the opportunity to take all of these amazing titles and introduce my students to them.

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