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The Hunger Games Film: Activities and Read-Alikes (A Special Edition of Pop Culture Round-Up)

30 Jan

Hunger Games cover (UK edition)The Hunger Games will be out on the 23rd of March. Already a wildly successful YA trilogy in the US (and popular in the UK, too), the film is bound to create fresh interest in the books. Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, a poor sector of a dystopian United States called Pan Am. When Katniss’s younger sister is selected as a “tribute” in the yearly state-sponsered teen-on-teen battle royale – the eponymous Hunger Games – Katniss volunteers to take her place, knowing full well that she will probably die in the process.

Film trailer:

Due to the popularity of the books, many American libraries are already hosting Hunger Games events. I would recommend preparing with extra stock – buy plenty of copies of all three books in the and considering events, but holding off until after the film is released, as I suspect many British teens will become fans of the trilogy after they watch the film.

In the meantime, you can read the books yourself and look at the District One Capitol Couture website – a very clever introduction to some of Pan Am’s obsessions.


You will probably get requests for more books like The Hunger Games. YALSA put together a list of classic and contemporary dystopian books for teens: The Future Sucks – A Visitor’s Guide to Dystopia. (One addendum to that list: the classic dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.) They have also compiled a short list of post-apocalyptic teen books at Dystopian vs. Post-apocalyptic Teen Books. There is an older list of 50+ dystopian YA books at Bart’s Bookshelf, and a shorter but very recent one compiled by on Wired. Alternately, type “dystopian YA list” into a search engine of your choice in order to yield extensive lists.

Displays and Activities

Tons of ideas for activities and displays. Here are my two favourite lists:
Feed Their Hunger for the Hunger Games from Teen Librarian’s Toolbox and and older (but still very useful) post from Youth Services Corner Hunger Games Party Ideas.

Do you have anything planned to respond to interest in The Hunger Games and dystopian YA?


Graphic Novel Reading Groups–From Syllabus to Reading List

15 Oct
Some of the graphic novels Alexander Chee uses on his syllabus.

A few of the graphic novels Alexander Chee uses on his syllabus.

Author and teacher Alexander Chee has just posted a complex and varied list of graphic novels he teaches as part of his (university) seminar on the graphic novel. This would make an excellent starting point for library staff germinating a graphic novel reading group (although a few of the volumes might not be appropriate for younger readers). The list runs the gamut from excellently penned superhero comics to literary graphic novels and includes several volumes of manga.

For reading groups I would also add Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, something by Sam Kieth (possibly Zero Girl), and maybe Enigma (by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo).

In my authority we often only hold one or two copies of a graphic novel (with the exception of Watchmen and possibly Scott Pilgrim, so I would suggest basing reading group sessions around teen recommendations and swapping of graphic novels rather than encouraging the entire group to read and discuss one particular volume. Teens will find addition titles to suggest and recommend to one another.

Check out Alexander Chee’s list and let me know if there’s anything you’d add for your graphic novel reading group.

YA Bookshelf Project UK

20 Jul

YA Bookshelf Project UK imageI’ve started YA Teen Bookshelf Project for the UK, and I want you to suggest your ideas for it!

YALSA’s YA Bookshelf Project is a wiki they use to create a list of books that they would absolutely have to have if they could only have a single bookshelf for teen use and YA lit. From that list they extrapolated the Ultimate Teen Bookshelf, a great resource for libraries starting their YA collection from scratch, and useful for any small library or other limited space such as “book mobiles, classroom libraries, home libraries, recreation centers, doctor’s offices, school buses” (quoted from their wiki).

Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “essential.” YALSA’s goal was to make a list that was “balanced” and “represents great authors.” I also think that any essential collection speaks to a broad range of teens. Of course, what’s essential in one area or for one teen population may not work with another, but the list should help provide a general starting point.

I’ve began the UK’s very own YA Bookshelf Project (see below for my list!). It’s tricky, since there’s a great deal that I haven’t read or included that should be on it, and a great deal specific to British YA that I may not know about (not least because I’m from America!). I know that a few of the books are controversial, while others are cliche. So I’m asking for your input–and lots of it.

Please add your ideas by taking the YA Bookshelf Project poll (see bottom of this post), tweeting your recommendations @yalibraruk, or emailing! I’ll update the list as I receive new submissions and if you add your contact details I’ll credit you at the bottom of the post.


Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (“anything by Tamora Pierce”)
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks
Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
Carrie by Stephen King
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver
Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty
The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
Diary of a Teenage Gir by Phoebe Gloeckner
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett
Girl 15, Charming but Insane by Sue Limb
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Hexwood by Diana Wynne-Jones
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian
Lottie Biggs is (NOT) Mad by Hayley Long
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Postcards from No Mans Land by Aidan Chambers
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The Rainbow Opera by Elizabeth Knox
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Sisterland by Linda Newberry
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett (“good role models for girls”)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Witch Child by Celia Rees


Radio Times

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Graphic Novels and Manga

Enigma by Peter Milligan (art by Duncan Fegredo)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Sandman series by Neil Gaiman



The Last Night On Earth by Charles Bukowski
Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah

Take the poll and add your suggestions to the list!

Thanks for the book suggestions, Sarah Benjamin, the amazing Georgina Hanratty (who sent me 19 suggestions!) and to everyone who’s answered the poll anonymously!