Mrs. Yusko Reads

Reading: Mischief and the Magical Librarian

Welcome Back (to School)

Apologies in advance if you are now singing the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter! I am sure that I have dated myself with that reference, but I often have that song stuck in my head this time of year... and now you do too.

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 a dozen. 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 (here's to 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 great books for you and your students! And 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 to my website. 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. The full-length one can be found on my website, or on TPT.


Best Picture Books for Back to School

Fall 2019 Back to School PB

#classroombookaday: Hector by Arienne Wright

If you follow me on social media, you know that I'm a big fan of using picture books with my middle and high school literature classes. I typically open every middle school class by reading one aloud, and I use them at the end of the day with my high school class.

If you are reading Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime" with your students this year, consider reading Hector by Adrienne Wright to introduce the setting of Noah's childhood. Pair it with the Time Magazine article below published on the 40th anniversary of the photograph.

Speaking of Trevor Noah, he has a new (subscription-based) podcast. Only a few episodes are free, but might be of interest to anyone reading his memoir. Find out more here.

Reading Quote Posters: Download below

The Bridge Home: GLOBAL READ ALOUD Resources

While I was finishing up my 2018 Best New Books seminars this year, I read an advance copy of The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman and was already predicting it would be one of my Top 10 for Middle School for 2019.

Well, I'm 3/4 of the way through the year, and the books, and this statement still holds true. I ADORE THIS BOOK. And it was named as the Middle School Global Read Aloud title for 2019.

If you have never heard of the Global Read Aloud, check out the website here for all the information.

If you are interested in reading this book with your students, the author has pulled together many terrific teaching resources for you on her website.

One of My Top 10 Picture Books of 2019 has a Short Film!

Hair Love Short Film Clip

Dot Day!

Every September 15th-ish is International Dot Day, based on the wildly popular book by Peter H. Reynolds: The Dot.

You can participate by reading and using this book with your students, at any time of the school year. There is a great activity guide, and several can be tailored for older students.

Really, it's all about Making Your Mark! If you haven't read the book to your classes, this is a GREAT #classroombookaday growth mindset title for all ages.

Dot Day info to get inspired!

Teacher's Guide

Back to School SALE!

It's the start of the school year and I'm celebrating all the fabulous Teachers, Teacher-Librarians, and School Staff out there with a SALE! Well, with several sales...

1) Before the 2019 Handbook of Best New YA Lit titles comes out (available 12/19), I'm putting the 2018 Handbook ON SALE for $21. You can find it on TPT. I've also bundled this handbook, plus the seminar presentation slides, plus my Best New Kid Lit titles bibliography for a special price of $25.

2) I've lowered the prices of most of my TPT resources and bundles by 20%. See what's available!

3) Looking to keep up-to-date on the BEST NEW BOOKS for your students, classroom, library?

Limited time or budget to attend PD workshops/seminars?

NEVER FEAR! Subscribe to MrsYuskoReads! There are levels to fit every budget, including the Teacher-Librarian rate... only $99 for 12 months of unlimited access to online booktalks and webinars about the best new books for your library/classroom, plus these monthly newsletters, and for a limited time, a PDF copy of the 2019 & 2018 YA Lit Handbooks!

For those that WANT IT ALL, I've put the Platinum Membership on sale for $139 right now! You get all the Teacher-Librarian benefits, the handbooks, PLUS one 20-minute Skype booktalk session with your class or staff. I've also added a Fall PD SPECIAL rate, which includes personalized Skype/video sessions twice per year for you and your staff AND a Teacher-Librarian subscription for one person... all for just $229. This Fall PD Special will only be available for a limited time so act now if that's of interest.

These are the most affordable way to get the books from my all-day seminar, but in smaller monthly segments, from the comfort of your living room. A great value compared with attending a BER seminar... and since I won't be presenting seminars for BER in 2019 (I'm focusing on on-site seminars and my daughter's senior year of high school!), this is an affordable way to still get the seminar. Also great for those with a limited PD budget!

Join now! Happy Reading!!

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

If you missed the newsletter where I first highlighted this book, you can read more here.

Stevenson's Just Mercy (adapted for Young Adults) was one of my Top 10 nonfiction books of 2018, and is a MUST READ for all students grades 6-12 (and adults!). There are many fiction titles to pair with this one, and it would be an excellent book club read, discussion starter, or tie-in to classes studying debate or Constitutional issues.

Now is the time to read this book and stock up on copies for your classroom/library. The movie adaptation is coming soon! Starring Michael B. Jordan (as Stevenson) and Jamie Foxx, this looks to be a powerful film. Read more below!

TED Talk: Bryan Stevenson

We need to talk about an injustice | Bryan Stevenson

Thoughts on Choice vs Canon?

Are You Ever Too Old for YA Lit?

I recently had a former student, now almost 23 years old, text me the following:

"Am I supposed to have moved on from YA?"

She was working as a Para-Ed at a high school and had asked the English Teacher in the room for book suggestions. The teacher responded, "then you're moving on to adult fiction, right?"

She cried a little at the thought of moving on from YA, and then promptly texted me for suggestions.

It reminded me of this "article" I read on Goodreads this summer. Let me know what you think.

We then proceeded to have a #TeamGale vs #TeamPeeta debate, and to talk about all the series where book #2 has let us down.

FYI: I assured her that you're never too old to read YA. In fact, she only recently took my suggestion to read Sarah Dessen, and has worked her way through all of them in the last year.

Another Favorite Picture Book of 2019: You Are Home by Evan Turk

Miss your summer vacation adventures to one or more of our National Parks? Want to share where you went with your students? Do you teach students about our National Parks? Then this book by Evan Turk is a MUST!

You can pair it with teaching resources on the NPS website.

Also, if you teach 4th grade, or students that will be in 4th grade, or that have cousins or siblings in 4th grade, check out Every Kid in a Park! All 4th graders get a free year-long pass to visit the National Parks.

Where in the World is Mrs. Yusko this fall? Coming to a conference near you!

Come find me this fall at one (or both) of these conferences!

I am SO excited to be asked to speak at the AISLE/IATE 2019 Annual Conference. If you are an educator in Illinois, make your plans to attend! I'll be giving 2 pre-conferences on #yalit (Best New Books for Middle School, and Best New Books for High School), as well a session on Best New Picture Books.

I will also be presenting a concurrent session on #yalit & technology with Karen Scott at the AASL National Convention. Come say hi!

I LOVE traveling around the country and spending the day with fellow educators talking about all the books with school districts, ESDs, and state library associations. These are some of my favorite seminars to do as I can often include kidlit, yalit, or both throughout the day.

Don't live in Illinois? Can't attend AASL? Does your state association have a conference? Does your district offer on-site PD? I'm available! Full-day or half-day seminars...kidlit, yalit, award winners...I can work with you to customize the best PD for your teachers/librarians, at a time of year that you'd like. (And it's often more cost-effective for your district/library association to bring me in directly).

Do you think your district might be interested? Find out more here, or contact me @

How Many Can You Get Right?