Recommended Reads for Teens
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (a Hunger Games Novel)
Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
If It Makes You Happy
Claire Kann's If It Makes You Happy is a coming-of-age novel about a young girl learning to embrace her cultural and sexuality identity.
Winnie is living her best fat girl life and is on her way to the best place on earth. No, not Disneyland--her Granny’s diner, Goldeen’s, in the small town of Misty Haven. While there, she works in her fabulous 50’s inspired uniform, twirling around the diner floor and earning an obscene amount of tips. With her family and ungirlfriend at her side, she has everything she needs for one last perfect summer before starting college in the fall.
...until she becomes Misty Haven’s Summer Queen in a highly anticipated matchmaking tradition that she wants absolutely nothing to do with.
Newly crowned, Winnie is forced to take center stage in photoshoots and a never-ending list of community royal engagements. Almost immediately, she discovers that she’s deathly afraid of it all: the spotlight, the obligations, and the way her Merry Haven Summer King, wears his heart, humor, and honesty on his sleeve.
Stripped of Goldeen’s protective bubble, to salvage her summer Winnie must conquer her fears, defy expectations, and be the best Winnie she knows she can be—regardless of what anyone else thinks of her.
Picture Us In The Light
Winner of the California Book Award and Stonewall Honor!
Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Bay Area family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry's and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.
When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.
The Midnight Lie
Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, Marie Rutkoski's The Midnight Lie is an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down, and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away, who whispers rumors that the High Kith possess magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.
Music from Another World
It's summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can't be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy's only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk...until she's matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.
Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others--like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom--and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they'll stand for...and who they'll rise against.
A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.
Something Like Gravity
For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor & Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.
Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.
A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.
But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.
The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.
But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?
We Contain Multitudes
An exhilarating and emotional LGBTQ story about the growing relationship between two teen boys, told through the letters written to one another. For fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and I’ll Give You the Sun.
Thrown together by a zealous English teacher's classroom-mailbox assignment, notorious scrapper, Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky, and Jonathan Hopkirk, a flamboyant Walt Whitman wannabe, have to write an old-fashioned letter to each other every week.
Kurl is a senior, an ex high school football player, held back a year, while Jo is a nerdy, out tenth grader with a penchant for vintage clothes and a deep love for poetry. They are an unlikely pair, but with each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying and familial abuse, Jonathan and Kurl must struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship, and each other.
The Black Flamingo
Stonewall Book Award Winner!
Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he's navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican--but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.
As he gets older, Michael's coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs--and the Black Flamingo is born.
Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are--and allow us to shine.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus's bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.
Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she's going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor's daughter. Audre's grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won't lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. "America have dey spirits too, believe me," she tells Audre.
Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels--about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that's plagued her all summer. Mabel's reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.
Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it's Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.
Color Outside the Lines
This modern, groundbreaking YA anthology explores the complexity and beauty of interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships where differences are front and center.
When people ask me what this anthology is about, I'm often tempted to give them the complicated answer: it's about race, and about how being different from the person you love can matter but how it can also not matter, and it's about Chinese pirate ghosts, black girl vigilantes, colonial India, a flower festival, a garden of poisons, and so, so much else. Honestly, though? I think the answer's much simpler than that. Color outside the Lines is a collection of stories about young, fierce, brilliantly hopeful people in love.--Sangu Mandanna, editor of Color outside the Lines
With stories by:
Samira Ahmed - Elsie Chapman - Lauren Gibaldi - Lydia Kang - Michelle Ruiz Keil - Lori M. Lee - Sangu Mandanna - L.L. McKinney - Anna-Marie McLemore - Danielle Paige - Karuna Riazi - Caroline Tung Richmond - Adam Silvera - Tara Sim - Eric Smith - Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can't remember anything since an accident robbed him of his memories a few weeks ago. And the world feels different--reality itself seems different.
So when three of his classmates claim to be his friends and the only people who can tell him what's truly going on, he doesn't know what to believe or who he can trust. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere--the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery--Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident, and only he can stop their world from unraveling.
"This sweet, spellbinding story will appeal to fans of magic and romance." — School Library Journal (starred review)
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft. Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any townhome. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
The Gravity of Us
Cal wants to be a journalist, and he's already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.
With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the "perfect American family."
And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels--and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
All the Pretty Things
For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.
One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It's their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she's not saying much--not even to Ivy.
The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn't convinced and realizes it's up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling--it's clear that some people aren't being honest about Ethan's last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever.
Everyone in Devil's Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters--but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out....
No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night--not even her sisters, Tessa and Lilly. All they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition.
Even though everyone is quick to jump to conclusions, Tessa is certain that her sister's killer wasn't Boyd, the boy next door whom they've all loved in their own way. Still, there are too many details that don't add up, too many secrets tucked away in the past.
But no matter how fiercely Tessa searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that's heartbreakingly simple.
Teen Blog Entries
All locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed until further notice, but know that we are still a source for entertainment and education. And you don't even have to step foot in our buildings to take advantage! Here are 7 ways to use your library card online right now. ...Read More
'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse So begins perhaps the most famous poem in American history, "The Night Before Christmas." (Fun fact: the real name of the poem is "A Visit from St. Nicholas"). The poem...
Databases for Teens
Helps library users of all backgrounds and skill levels locate the information they need. High school students gathering sources for an assignment, lifelong learners investigating their passions, and individuals looking for context around the events shaping the headlines will all find answers with this easy-to-use database.
Contains full text for general reference magazines and publications covering a wide-range of subject areas including business, health, education, general science and multicultural issues.
Provides access to age-appropriate, authoritative digital content for middle- and high-school students to use for classroom assignments. Learners can research magazines, journals, newspapers, and reference books covering a range of subjects.
Mango is a fun and easy way to learn any of more than 70 languages, plus English courses in more than 20 languages.
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