Scientifically Modified Food for Thought

Or, I like My Speculative Fiction with a Side of Social Commentary, Please.

I made a reading list based on feedback from the teens I booktalked to!

Several of them mentioned their appreciation for science fiction. Some teens also indicated a strong interest in social justice. For a recommended reading list I created for my Teen Materials in a Digital Age class, I decided to blend the two and create a list of science fiction with heavy social commentary. I hope this list provides teens the opportunity to explore these imaginative worlds, think critically of the situations presented in the novels, and consider the possible parallels to their own lives. Speculative fiction presents readers with contemporary social issues in a controlled situation that is no less powerful than realistic fiction. A teen reader may be challenged through these books leading to an affirmation or alteration of their values and identity. My list is directed at older teens aged 14 and up.

Feed by M.T. Anderson, 2002

In a future where computer chips feed humans access to unlimited information and targeted advertising, a girl tries to challenge the system.

Diverse EnergiesDiverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti, 2012

This diverse anthology includes 11 stories of teens against governments, society, and sometimes each other, all by popular sci-fi authors.

Enders GameEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card, 1985

Placed in a military training program at a young age, Ender shows tactical genius in alien war games that soon grow suspiciously realistic.

Summer PrinceThe Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, 2013

June falls for the Summer King and plans her most socially provocative art installation yet in a technologically advanced Brazilian city.

ProxyProxy by Alexander London, 2013

This fast-paced, sci-fi update of “The Whipping Boy” puts Knox against those in power who forced him to become a proxy to pay off his debts.

Knife of Never Letter GoThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl, 2011

On a planet where animals and men can hear each other’s thoughts, Todd must flee to keep a dark secret. The audio won an Odyssey honor.

TankbornTankborn by Karen Sandler, 2011

Genetically engineered Kayla challenges the uncomfortable truths of her oppressive society in this page-turner about race and class.


Booktalking to 10th Grade Honors World Lit Classes

Mrs. E came into the library seeking booktalks for her 10th grade honors world literature classes. The World Lit classes have a semester long project where they read materials with authors from 7 regions around the world. I would provide students with reading options from 5 regions, excluding North America and Europe. The books needed to be a mix of reading levels, YA or adult, and include some translated texts.

I had my work cut out for me! Luckily, the librarian had a list of non-western materials within the library’s collection that I could choose from. Composing these booktalks took longer than the ones for Mr. L’s classes, particularly because I had not read any of the titles and had to solely rely on professional reviews or quick browsing through the pages.

Much like with Mr. L’s class, I began my booktalks by asking the students their reading preferences. The answers I received included psychological thrillers, more sci-fi, contemporary, and nonfiction. Hopefully some students found some books to pick for the next phase of their project!

1st Period Booktalks

3rd Period Booktalks

5th Period Booktalks

Booktalk Tuesday–LIAR


LIAR by Justine Larbalestier

Micah is a liar. She tells you so herself.
She lies about small things, like what her parents to for a living.
She lies about big things. That she’s a boy, not a girl.
She lies about her boyfriend, who has another girlfriend. Or does he?
But when her boyfriend goes missing, Micha decides to start telling the truth. The real truth. You
just have to believe it.

Great for people interested in false narrators, thrillers, supernatural…maybe.



The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

The year is 1993. Sixteen-year-old Maggie lives in Chicago with her single mother and younger sister. Her life’s okay, but made infinitely better by her cool musician uncle teaches her everything about grunge music. Smashing Pumpkins. Soundgarden. Nirvana. Especially Nirvana.

Then her mother quickly marries her latest boyfriend and moves the family to a tiny town in Ireland. It’s dreary, cold, and grey. Maggie doesn’t even try to fit in. Then her uncle sends her two tickets to a Nirvana concert in Rome with the message: “Take the boy. Don’t ask permission. There will also be time to do responsible things. Before that, live.”

Great for music lovers, travelers, and romantics.

New year, new internship

Happy New Year! Winter quarter has begun and brings with it a new internship for me. This quarter I’ll be working with a high school librarian at a local public school. We’ve discussed several projects I can do in order to promote and advocate library services and resources to students and teachers. A huge one we’re both really excited about is integrating library iPads into classroom projects. See, this librarian is a ROCKSTAR–she recognized that many students at the school do not have access to digital devices at home, and wanted to give them the opportunity to explore this media. So, she did what a rockstar librarian does and applied for–and received–three different grants in order to purchase 30 iPads and an accompanying charging cart. One teacher has already signed up for a chance to use them in his honors class. I’m eager to see what the project is and how we can make this a positive learning experience for everyone.

To promote library services, I’ll create some infographics on library services and a slide show of book covers. Hopefully I can present book talks to several freshman classes as well.

So much to look forward to in 2015!