Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Which Came First? Chicken or Egg? (Trivia Game)

Name: Which Came First? Chicken or Egg?

Created by: iPlay

Age: 8 and up

Players: 2-4 individuals or teams

Themes/Subjects: Educational, Trivia Game

Description:

Which Came First? Chicken or Egg? is a fascinating trivia game for everyone. Players compete by answering over 300 trivia questions with detailed answers in six different categories: Eat & Drink; Life & Style; Shows & Tunes; Games & Toys; Fact & Fiction; Odds & Ends.

My Take:

This game was so much fun even if I was horrible at it! We play this sometimes on Friday’s in the library and our special needs students really enjoy it. Most of our middle school students have never heard of some of the products mentioned but they still have a ton of fun guessing. Plus with the detailed answers they learn something and hold onto these random facts. An alternate way to play without the board would be to ask the questions to the group and see how it divides the group. The questions are great conversation starters and would be fun at any party or event.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar Game: Such & Such The Answers to the Clues Come in Twos! by Patch Products, Inc.

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It Gets Better

Name: It Gets Better

URL: http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

Description: The It Gets Better project first began in September 2010 when syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. The project reminds young people in the LGBT community that they are not alone, and things will get better if they can just get through their teen years. Itgetsbetter.org contains more than 40,000 user-created videos from around the world including submissions from politicians, celebrities, activists, media personalities, and everyday people. The videos show young people who are gay, bi, or transgender how love and happiness is in their future and a whole community (both gay and straight) of support.

Review: It Gets Better is an amazing site that sends LGBT teens a very important message: You are not alone and things will get better. This site offers teen a space where they can go and watch/listen to inspirational stories from successful LGBT adults who are now leading fulfilling and happy lives. Not only are their testimonials from LGBT members, but also the straight community creating a community of acceptance and support for those teens struggling with acceptance and hopelessness.

My only concern with the site, is that immediately upon visiting the site, users are prompted to “Take the Pledge.” This requires users to provide their first and last name, email address and zip code. Beneath the pledge is an option to skip this step and proceed to videos. Users can engage in the blog or upload their own videos, however, this information becomes property of the website and is stored online indefinitely. Users need to be aware of privacy and safety issues before releasing any information.

Educational Application: The website can be a means of opening up discussions either at school or with families regarding accepting diversity, bullying and cyberbullying, and what the appropriate actions are to handle similar situations.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: http://www.queerattitude.com/ This site is specifically designed with LGBT youth in mind and really focuses on what teens are going through now.

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Sex, Etc.

Name:Sex, ETC.

URL: http://www.sexetc.org/

Description: Sex, Etc. is part of the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project developed by Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting comprehensive sexuality education to young people and the adults in their lives. It includes frank, fact-based information about anatomy, safer sex, resisting sexual pressure, pregnancy options, sexual orientation, and a range of other issues related to sexual health and relationships.

Review: This site is both colorful and engaging and goes way beyond what is simply discussed in schools. One of my favorite features of Sex, Etc. is that it focuses on first-person stories and contains many articles written by teen contributors and edited by staff. Hearing from peers reassures teens that they are not alone when it comes to questions regarding their bodies and sexual health. The site also recognizes the myths and misinformation delivered through media and encourages teens to think critically about what they see and hear. One of the best features of the site is how much interaction there is! After reading articles, users can play games which demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned.

Educational Application: Teens are absorbing information about sex almost on a daily basis. It’s on almost all the magazine covers at the checkout lines of stores, the radio, in music, on TV, and in movies. So how do they know what is a trustworthy source of information? Many teens are afraid of approaching their parents about sex and even “the talk” at school can be a bit unsettling. Teachers and parents can rest assured that the information provided on the Sex, Etc. website is accurate and up-to-date. Although the website is touted as “Sex education by teens, for teens” there is quite a bit of professional moderation to ensure that teens are not given the wrong information.  This is an excellent site for health classes to visit because of the fun, educational games that accompany the articles. The design is engaging without being childish and easy to navigate. The parents and educators link provides training and resources which can accompany the Sex, Etc. site and help parents and educators navigate teens through the topic of sexual health.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: http://www.avert.org/teens.htm The design of this site is not as cool or teen friendly as Sex, Etc. but it has really great resources and actually links to Sex, Etc!

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WatchKnow

Name: WatchKnow

URL: http://watchknow.com/

Description: Launched by Larry Sanger, the cofounder of Wikipedia, and promoted as “YouTube for kids” WatchKnow is a safe and educational wiki hosting more than a thousand educational videos and other media for kids. The majority of the video clips are reposted from kid-friendly sites such as National Geographic and TeacherTube. The site is geared towards kids ages 3-18 so parents do not need to worry about inappropriate content or ads.

Review: This site is supposed to contain videos for ages 3-18 years old, yet I found many of the videos to be geared towards little kids. Explain to me, how can one video be for ages 3-18? The page itself is very basic but also extremely easy to navigate. I found videos the fasted by simply typing in the subject/topic I was looking for in the search box. The videos I did find were of great quality and easy to load on the computer. Although it is geared for kids, I don’t think teens would come to this site on their own.

Educational Application: This site is free and has thousands of videos on a variety of subjects/topics which makes it a beneficial resource to any teacher. The categories and subcategories are easy to navigate, yet the quickest method of searching is by using the search engine. Registered users can edit video descriptions and ratings which would help improve the site.

Similar/Related Sites of Interest: http://www.bjpinchbeck.com/ A site of educational links provides users with information covering almost every topic that comes to mind.

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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Title: Little House on the Prairie

Author:  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Publisher: HarperCollins (75th Anniversary Edition)            Year: 2010

ISBN -13: 978-0061958274

Age: 8 and up

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Juvenile Fiction, Family Life, Frontier, Pioneer Life, 19th Century United States, Farm & Ranch Life, Historical Fiction, Classic

Plot Summary:

Pa Ingalls is tired of how crowded the big woods are getting. So he decides to sell the house and move west with his family. Just before the ice breaks, the family loads up their wagon and heads out. They cross the Mississippi River and then head south, settling two days away from Independence, Missouri. Now they have to build a new house and survive the wilderness. Meanwhile, Laura is anxious to see a papoose. And with all the Indians in the area, she may get her chance.

My take:

Little House on the Prairie is a true classic that is not only enjoyed by children but adults as well. The writing is simple yet the story is captivating. It is a wonderfully enthralling educational adventure story that captivates its readers from the very first page. Although it is categorized as a fictional story, I consider this book non-fiction since it provides us with a pretty accurate view of the relationship between settlers and Indians and between pioneers and the government. This book and series is a great way to introduce students to the 19th century westward movement in the United States.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar Read: The Headless Horseman by Mayne Reed

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Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee

Title: Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up

Author:  Sarah Albee

Publisher: Walker Childrens; 1 edition         Year: 2010

ISBN -13: 978-0802720771

Age: 10 and up

Genre: Non-Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Poop, History, Disease, Science, Sanitation, Industrial Revolution, Humor

Plot Summary:

Waste disposal and sanitation have had huge effects on the development of world civilizations. Historically contagious diseases have killed huge numbers of people every year: the bubonic plague, cholera, typhoid, polio, etc… These diseases have shaped human history and their spread is linked to human waste disposal.

Sarah Albee explores human history through the progress of waste disposal and hygiene. She examines advances in sewer technology and how they affected different cultures and she explains how improper waste disposal is linked to the spread of disease.

My take:

Poop is not something we talk about in polite society so naturally this book’s title immediately draws EVERYONE’s attention. When I first say it on the shelf of the book fair, I eyed it over quite a bit before working up the nerve to take it off the shelf. Now that it is in the library, it is hardly ever on our shelves!

Rather than reading this book from cover to cover, I found it more fun to randomly flip through and read the stories. Tweens are definitely going to want to check out this book. Not only will the title have them giggling and perusing but add in the humorous illustrations and the flippant style and kids will be hooked.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! Who knew that poop had such a long history!

Similar Read: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

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A Zombie’s Guide to the Human Body: Tasty Tidbits from Head to Toe

Title: A Zombie’s Guide to the Human Body: Tasty Tidbits from Head to Toe

Author: Scholastic

Publisher: Scholastic Reference        Year: 2010

ISBN -13: 978-0545249799

Age: 8 and up

Genre: Non-Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Science & Nature

Plot Summary:

This book is a basic guide to understanding the human body but with a zombie twist! From head to toe, the human body is explored and explained with a funny combination of illustrated images and full-colored photographs of zombies. Not only will you learn facts such as what happens to your dinner after you eat and how many bones there are, but also interesting zombie facts like “the jellylike marrow (of the bones) is good on toast!”

My take:

This book is not only educational but hilariously funny!  I see students at lunchtime huddled around the book and have to remind them to keep their voices down as they enjoy the zombie humor. Full of bright colors, high quality graphics and typical zombie humor this book is a great resource. Every page contains basic science about the human body – from bones and brains muscles and reflexes – sure to both entertain and educate your kids

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars … I don’t think anyone is too old to take a refresher course in Human Anatomy 101 with a zombie professor!

Similar Read: Biology: Life As We Know It by Dan Green

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Drought by Pam Bachorz

Title: Drought

Author: Pam Bachorz

Publisher: EgmontUSA         Year: 2011

ISBN -13: 978-1606840160

Age: 12 and up

Genre: Fiction

Subjects / Themes: Young Adult, Slavery, Science Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fiction, Cult, Dystopian, Social Drama, Forbidden Romance, Friendship, Family, Coming of Age

Summary:

For the past 200 years, Ruby and the Congregation have been enslaved by Darwin West and forced to collect “blessed” water for a mysterious visitor. Brutally beaten and starved, the Congregation waits and endures for their savior, Otto to arrive and deliver them from their hell. Few people know that the secret to the water is Ruby’s blood which gives it healing and life-sustaining properties. When Ruby falls in love with an overseer she is greatly conflicted with the desire to escape oppression and live in the modern world, and the obligation to endure and sustain with the Congregation.

My Take:

BORING! Not only did the Congregants have to wait and endure until Otto arrived, but I spent the whole book waiting and enduring a poor storyline for something to happen. This book just seemed to drag on and on with very little action and not enough description. Based on how this book ended, I have a very bad feeling that Pam Bachorz is planning on releasing a sequel, gosh I hope not. Although, maybe it will be one of those rare cases where the sequel is actually better than the original but I doubt it. I guess we’ll just have to wait some more to find out. There just wasn’t enough information and back story to truly understand the Congregants plight. And what little action there was lasted no more than a couple pages.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars … I didn’t absolutely hate the book and the concept of it is interesting, I was just so bored.

Similar Read: I’m not sure what to recommend because I would hate for it to be another dud.

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