Mrs. Yusko Reads

Reading: Mischief and the Magical Librarian

Elizabeth Acevedo WINS the National Book Award for "The Poet X" (Fast-forward to 2:35)

Giving Thanks for Families

November holidays abound and present opportunities to show gratitude and love for friends and family. This month, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite 2018 titles that deal with FAMILY...whatever that might look like.

If you are a subscriber to, you have free access to my K-6th and/or 6th-12th booktalk webinar of these titles and MORE. You can click here to login, then click "subscriber webinars" and access either one or BOTH! Each one is about 30-40 minutes.

Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe OR click here to access a free 5-7 minute sample (scroll down under "Shoutouts!").

Please note, several titles work for a variety of ages, not just the ones listed. They might be appropriate for your readers at a higher or lower grade level.

Kindergarten - 3rd grades:
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
Islandborn by Junot Diaz and Leo Espinosa
Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat
Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (all the books, including the new "Santa Bruce")

Infamous Ratsos series by Kara LaReau and Matt Myers

4th - 8th grades:
The Night Diary by Beera Hiranandani
Dear Sister by Alison McGhee
Marcus Vega Does Not Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen
Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz
Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart

9th-12th grades:
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott

Educated by Tara Westover
Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosocza

SAMPLE November Webinar: Best Family Stories K-6th Grade! (Subscribe to for access to the full webinar and the 6th-12th grade one)

SAMPLE November Best books K-6

Kate DiCamillo: on Reading Aloud to EVERYONE!

Curriculum Corner:

Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" (2014) has been adapted for the young adult audience. In it, he talks about mass incarceration and his work as a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. This title is focused on several key cases which spark debate about racial and socioeconomic injustices in the criminal justice system, especially the juvenile justice system.

Stevenson includes discussion of the lack of adequate representation for poor defendants, minorities, and the racial disparity of death row inmates; mistreated prisoners with mental illness; and TEENS sentenced to death or life in prison in adult facilities.

He calls for everyone to consider what "justice" means. And who deserves it. And how to look at people as human beings deserving of a "just mercy." There are many discussion starters here around prison reform, constitutional issues (what is cruel and unusual punishment?), and more.

Pair this title with the author's TED Talk as well as "We'll Fly Away" by Bryan Bliss and "Moonrise" by Sarah Crossan for terrific Fiction/Nonfiction pairings.

This works for all high school classrooms studying Constitutional Issues, speech and debate classes, and book clubs looking to spark discussion. One of my TOP 10 Nonfiction titles of 2018!

Nonfiction Friday: Endurance + A Heart in a Body in the World

One of my favorite new books for high school is Deb Caletti's "A Heart in a Body in the World." In it, a young woman decides to run across the country, from Seattle to Washington, DC, because she can't think of anything else that will help heal her demons. Along the way she ends up forging a great bond with her grandfather, makes a statement to others in the world suffering like she is, and makes a connection with "Endurance," a biography of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. (The pictured book is one of my favorites about well as "Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong).

The main character reads this book multiple times on her journey, and quotes from it often. Chapter 21 is one of my favorite parts, where she discusses how much this biography has meant to her. It starts, "By the time she's here...running beside the green-brown waters of Albert Lea Lake in Minnesota, watching the eerie mist rise from it, listening to the chip of indigo buntings and eastern bluebirds...she has read Endurance four times."

Read the next several pages in the chapter to give students a mentor text for responding to literature, or for pulling meaningful quotes from a text. This pairing would work well for a book club and/or lit circle interesting in reading fiction and nonfiction and discussing the similarities between the two journeys.


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 class by reading one aloud. This is a current favorite of the students (and myself!).

1) If you don't teach at the elementary level and haven't read the original Interrupting Chicken book, you should go do that now.

2) Besides being SO funny, this works as a mentor text for older classes if you teach elements of writing/storytelling, specifically the "element" of surprise.

3) For younger classes studying fairy tales, this is a great addition as our young chicken adds an elephant to several classic stories in surprising ways throughout the book.

4) A great book for storytimes or read-alouds. And a good father/child book.

Happy Reading!

END OF THE YEAR Sale on Teacher-Librarian Subscriptions

No, really, this is the END of the sale on Teacher-Librarian subscription rates on MrsYuskoReads! As I travel the country presenting seminars, I keep promising people the discounted rate. And so, I keep extending the sale.

Join now for unlimited access to online booktalks and webinars about the best new books for your library/classroom, plus these monthly newsletters. Only $75 for 12 month until 12/31/18 (then $108/year).

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.

Join now! Happy Reading!!