Mrs. Yusko Reads

Reading: Mischief and the Magical Librarian


This is the 10th Summer of SYNC: free audiobooks all summer long.

And it starts the last week of April, so check out their website for ALL the details, titles, calendars, publicity, directions, etc.

DON'T MISS OUT! There are great titles available this year!

Books Celebrating Poetry, Authors, and WORDS!

April is "Poetry Month" and I love highlighting books that celebrate the written word. So this month I'm putting the spotlight on new-ish books about authors and poets, that have characters who want to be writers, that are written in verse, are retellings of classic stories, or that show the power of WORDS!

Happy Reading... and Writing!

Kindergarten - 3rd grades:

Say Something (Reynolds)
The Word Collector (Reynolds)

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (Stein)
Drawn Together (Le)
Turning Pages (Sotomayor)
Epic Adventures of Huggie and Stick (Daywalt)
Write to Me (Grady)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Rogers)
Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope (Rockliff)
Bear's Book (Freedman)

4th - 8th grades:

Martin Rising (Pinkney)
The Undefeated (Alexander)
Becoming Madeleine (Voiklis)
Dear Sister (McGhee)
Night Diary (Hiranandani)
Lifeboat 12 (Hood)
Dear Ally, How do you write a book? (Carter) (6th-12th grades!)
The Bridge Home (Venkatraman)
Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World (Blake)
Fearsome Giant, Fearless Child (Fleischman)

9th-12th grades:
For Every One (Reynolds)
Voices (Elliott)
Field Guide to the North American Teenager (Philippe)
What I Leave Behind (McGhee)
My Plain Jane (Hand, et. al)
Pride (Zoboi)
Mary's Monster (Judge)
Fresh Ink (edited by Giles)
Between the Lines (Grimes)
On the Come Up (Thomas)
The Poet X (Acevedo)
White Rose (Wilson)
Lovely War (Berry)
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings (edited by Oh)

Adults (and high school):

Shout (Anderson)

#classroombookaday + Curriculum Corner = 2 for 1

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.

This new book, published under Kwame Alexander's new imprint (VERSIFY), is a "love letter" to Black life in America and was originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated. The book takes Kwame's spoken word poem and adds fantastic illustrations by Kadir Nelson. Back matter provides historical context and details for those wishing to learn more.

Though not the goal of #classroombookaday, this book could also be used with a variety of ages in the classroom. Younger elementary classes could read this as an introduction to the events portrayed, American history/time periods, and achievements of the people highlighted throughout. In addition to the ways mentioned, older classrooms (5th-12th grades) could pair this with the video of the poem being performed by Kwame. (You can find it here). It could be a discussion starter for the history of race relations in this country, current events, Black Lives Matter, athletes taking a knee, or paired with many fiction titles in your classroom or school library. It would also make a jumping off point for research, or a spoken word poetry unit.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah gets a Young Reader's Adaptation

One of my FAVORITE books from the last several years is Trevor Noah's memoir, Born a Crime. I cannot say enough good things about it., and honestly find ways to sneak mention of it into my #yalit seminars whenever I can. I think it should be mandatory reading for all adults and students in 7-12th grades. And I'm not alone in that assessment... students in New Jersey are reading it as part of the curriculum. I think this memoir mirrors events in our own country's history, and also pairs well with many current fiction stories.

Now, even younger readers can access the memoir in a brand new young reader's adaptation (perfect for grades 6 & up). I'll be honest, I don't often pay attention to whether swear words appear in a book for teens (I mean, have you been in a school hallway or on a school bus?!). But I do know that "bad language" is important to some school communities. This new adaptation scrubs the swear words without eliminating the content and makes it a great choice for even more students.

If you have not read the memoir yet, consider listening to the audiobook as Trevor reads it himself!

Click here to read more about the book and why Trevor thinks that students can handle the truth about his story.

Fiction & NonFiction Pairing: Speak + Speak + Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Just in case you missed it, I'm recycling this Fiction/NonFiction pairing from March. Because Laurie Halse Anderson. And these are all "must read" books!

Hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since the publication of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is impossible to put into words all that the book (and the AUTHOR!) has done for YA Lit.

I just live-streamed a panel at the Virginia Festival of Books where she talked with Jason Reynolds about writing "tough topics" in books. The Virginia Humanities Facebook page has the video online, so you should check it out! So many good sound bites!!

For this Fiction/NonFiction pairing, I'm highlighting Speak (the novel) and pairing it with Speak, the new graphic novel adaption, AND Shout, Anderson's newest memoir IN VERSE.

The graphic novel belongs on any shelf that has the original novel. If you read the novel with your classes or book club, please include the graphic novel: either as a compare/contrast of formats or to help lower level readers access the content and participate in discussions.

Anderson's memoir Shout is, in a word, fantastic... and one of only three 5 star books that I've read so far in 2019. Divided into parts, it focuses on her childhood, rape as a young teen, high school, and college years in part one. The second part includes her life as an author after Speak was published, and her life as a survivor. For book/author lovers, she has several great poems about sitting at a National Book Award dinner with Walter Dean Myers (which she read in the live-steam I highlighted above). This is a POWERFUL book and has garnered ALL the starred reviews possible already. Expect to see this one on all of the end of the year "Best" lists.

There are many interviews that you can find given by Anderson about this new book. Here's one.

SAMPLE Best New Books April 2019 K-12

Teacher-Librarian Subscriptions

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.

The most affordable way to get all 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 my BER seminar...for those with a limited PD budget, or no seminar in your area this year.

FYI: since the seminar season is winding down, the 2018 Handbook of YA Lit titles is ON SALE for $29 (contact me for a 2018 K-5th grade's free!). You can find it on TPT or on my website. And for those that WANT IT ALL, $149 gets you the Teacher-Librarian benefits, PLUS the handbook, PLUS a 20-minute Skype booktalk session with your class or staff).

Join now! Happy Reading!!

Coming to a School, Library, or District Near You???

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.

I know that the school year is wrapping up, but I'm already scheduling dates for the 2019-2020 school year. 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 @

A Feel-Good Story from Colombia