Political Action Training

Yesterday, I offered a political action training class for any interested adults at my church.

So many folks asked for my handouts from the event that I’m posting it here as a single PDF: Political Action Training. Feel free to share the PDF with others.

NOTE: To be fair, these are strategies that can be helpful no matter which side of the politics you’re on, and they’re mostly a combination of what I’ve learned about teaching students to read non-fiction and reading resources myself, most notably the Indivisible Guide (linked here), which I cannot recommend enough!

Credit to Maureen Hill (2017) for the Purposes of Nonfiction slides and to EasyBib for the how-to-read-news infographic.



The Inquisitor’s Tale


…Won a Newbery honor while I was reading it!

I loved the story of three unlikely friends going on a quest to save copies of the Talmud, and I loved the way the author imagined what the “rest of the world” really thought in a time of religious persecution.

The method of telling–sort of a middle grade Canterbury Tales– was enchanting, as were the historical notes at the end and all the “meta” moments about storytelling in between.

*SPOILERS* Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

At times, it felt like a highlight reel, sort of a “Harry Potter, this is…your life!” with lots of nods to fandom, especially alternate relationships & their inevitable trajectories (cough, cough, Ron and Hermione).

Other times it was surprising to the point of disbelief, & not the “inevitable surprises” more typical of Rowling (cough, cough, Delphi’s parents).

And it lacked the strength of its own convictions about the Scorpious /Albus relationship.

…but I loved it anyhow. Still. I loved it for:

  • Seeing Snape soften over time and become the best version of himself.
  • Hearing Dumbledore name himself “tricky and dangerous” (something I’d never even considered until I read Rowell’s CARRY ON).
  • Witnessing Hermione as Minister of Magic, as a warrior (a la Princess Leia), and as a mean professor.
  • Remembering just how important Neville Longbottom really is.
  • Reading really great lines again, like “She’s weaponized her library!” and “those Dumbledore terrorists” and “Thank Dumbledore.”

And I loved it as an adult. As a mom. Watching Harry (at exactly my own age) feeling as lost in parenting as I do sometimes–somehow that made me feel less alone than all the zillions of parenting books in the world could have done.

Most of all, I loved it because I was reading a new HP story when I never thought I would again.

(Yes, yes, it was a play. Yes, yes, it would be better performed. Yes, yes, it would be even better as a novel. But none of that *mattered* to me very much.)

Vacation YA

An old friend messaged me and asked for some great YA to read over vacation. She mentioned that she’d really enjoyed Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, and John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars.

She wanted to know: what’s next?

I was happy to answer–and then someone else wanted the list and someone else and pretty soon I thought I might as well make a list.

So first off, everything else by Jandy Nelson, Rainbow Rowell, and John Green is good. My top Green pic is Looking for Alaska and my top Rowell pick is Fangirl (though I loved Landline and Attachments and Carry On and her short story In My True Love Gave To Me and…you get the picture).

But what about after that? Here’s some of what I’ve read in the last two years that might make a great ‘next read.’

If you loved the swoon:

  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertelli
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  • The Boy In the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  • My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins

If you loved the smart snark

  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E Lockhart
  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (great read-alike for fans of Perks of Being a Wallflower)

If you loved the love with a bit of sadness

  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If you loved the characters grappling with serious issues

  • Exit, Pursued By a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

If you loved the can’t-put-it-down-ness

  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (which is two books in one. The “can’t put it down” book is the one with the black pages)

Or, if you’re looking to try some magical realism

  • The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Or, if you’re looking to try fantasy

  • Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas (I pitch this to my students as a feminist retelling of Cinderella that starts in the fairy godmother’s sweatshop)
  • The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  • The Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Or, if you’re looking for a departure into gorgeous novels written in verse

  • One by Sarah Crossan
  • Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermen
  • House Arrest by K.A. Holt

Or if you’re looking for some great dystopia-influenced stuff

  • Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
  • Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil

Exit, Pursued By A Bear by EK Johnston

Nothing prepared me for how excellent this book is–not just as a story, which I couldn’t stop thinking about to the point I lost sleep, and not just as a political statement (about rape and rape culture and cheerleading as sport and abortion and faith).

And I was prepared!
–I read a interview with EK Johnston about this book in which she called it the most “fantasy” thing she’s written.
–I attended a conference with Andrew Karre who described a particular scene in this book as the kind of honest, gritty stuff he’s looking for in books he edits.

Still, nothing.

It’s that revolutionary.

I’ve asked our library at the school where I teach to order five copies, and I plan to recommend this book far and wide, teach it in my WNDB unit, and specifically recommend it to kids who’ve already read SPEAK and ALL THE RAGE.

PS) Hermione Winters and Polly Oliver effing rock. And Pastor Rob and Officer Palermo and Caledon (sp?) and even Hermione’s parents are pretty great too.

My Year in Books 2015

My Year in Books 2015-page-001

Thanks, GoodReads!

An easier-to-read .pdf version of My Year in Books 2015 available here.

So, you have a chapbook coming out. What’s that?

Covers x 2

Tuesday’s Children covers

I’ve used social media to share the wonderful news that Hermeneutic Chaos Press is publishing my chapbook, Tuesday’s Children this December (pre-orders beginning November 23).

My editor came up with the awesome idea of commissioning two different covers for the book, and you can see both of them here. Meanwhile I’ve been working with a variety of different visual artists on postcards for several poems in the chapbook.

As I’ve shared this news, lots of folks are wondering “so…what is a chapbook?” It’s a great question. I had no idea what a chapbook was until I started reading and ordering them over the last few years.

A chapbook usually a small collection of poems by an individual author. The books themselves are meant to be lovely but fleeting objects.


Some of my favorite chapbooks, links below

They’re often little! If you didn’t know you were looking at it, you might think it was a booklet or a pamphlet.

Often chapbooks are handmade by small presses who love book-making and treat it as an art. They can be bound in all kinds of ways—saddle stitches, post-binding, staples or even perfect-binding like a full-length collection.

Unlike most full-length collections, though, chapbooks usually have a theme or unifying idea behind them.

Typically, poets, flash-fiction writers, and even novella-writers submit to chapbook reading periods and contests from a variety of small presses. And small presses support chapbooks as a less expensive way of promoting authors they enjoy and admire.

If you want to see other chapbooks out there in the world, take a look at these options by some of my favorite contemporary poets:

And a few chapbooks on the weirder side that I adore:

Also, my poet-friend E. Kristin Anderson answers the “What is a Chapbook” question way better than I do so if you want more details and history, take a look.


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