Episode 110: Children’s and YA books

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Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This week we are discussing Children and YA books! This is definitely not a comprehensive look at all good books for these ages! We are sharing a few we like, and some resources you can use to find other good books.

We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we support all types of libraries. This is our book group podcast, where we discuss different genres of books each week, while we all sit in our comfy chairs and drink our beverages. And you are, of course, an important part of this book group. So if you do not already have a nice beverage please go get one, so you can join the experience.

There are no “right” or “wrong” books to read and chat about for our book group – we are just here to explore all kinds of books. We love books, and want to talk about them – and we want you to share what you are reading. All of us will take away at least a title or two that we want to read at the end of our time together!

Who is joining our reading group this week? This week our guest hosts are experts in the genre, as they are book readers and in the targeted age groups for these books. Welcome to Jordan and Grace!


We have guests, we have our genre. We just need our beverages. Fortunately, we all came prepared with something to sip while we talk about our books. Each week we like to connect the theme of our books with our beverages. Each beverage will have a recipe or a link on our episode page, so you can try them yourself!  Obviously, feel free to sip your coffee as you listen, or any other beverage you enjoy. Just join us in celebrating books, and discussing books!

Cookie Monster Drink RecipeCookie Monster Drink

  • 4 c vanilla ice cream
  • 3 c blue frosting
  • 4 c milk
  • 16 oreo cookies
  • 8 mini marshmellows
  • 8 choc chips ( or can use a chocolate piece from oreo for eyes )
  • Blend Vanilla ice cream, 12 cookies and milk together.
  • Top with blue frosting
    Insert chocolate chip or cookie piece into marshmallows and place into frosting
    Add Oreo Cookie into frosting!


Teddy Bear JuiceTeddy Bear Juice

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Mix apple juice, hot water, lemon juice, and honey in a mug; stir. Serve warm.


Image result for shirley temple drinkShirley Temple

  • 1 1/4 ounces grenadine
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ice
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • 2 maraschino cherries

1Place the grenadine, lemon juice, and lime juice in a tall glass and stir with a cocktail spoon or straw until combined.
2Fill the glass with ice and top with the club soda. Stir gently to combine
3Garnish with the maraschino cherries and serve immediately.


Green Slime SmoothieGreen Slime Smoothie

  • 2 cups spinach
  • Leaf Spinach
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup ice
  1. Place the spinach in the freezer until frozen, at least 1 hour.
  2. Combine the spinach, strawberries, banana, honey, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Genre Suggestions

This is, as we have discussed in other genres, a huge range of possibilities! We could easily spend an entire episode looking at each of the category breakdowns of this genre, but today will just be giving an overview and sharing a few favorites from each of us.

These are not the only breakdowns of books, but give you some ideas about how to think about different kinds of children’s books:

  • Younger Readers – Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books;
  • Middle Readers – Grades 3-5, ages 8-10;
  • Older Readers – Grades 6-8, ages 11-14;
  • All Ages – Has appeal and interest for children in all of the above age ranges
  • Young Adult – ages 13 and up; frequently read by adults (think: Hunger Games and Harry Potter!)

You can also use Lexile scores to give you some ideas on books you might enjoy. “Lexile scores are currently the standard for matching kids with the books that will fall neatly into their level of reading comprehension. Scores can help ensure that your child is encountering books that are helping them grow as a reader, but note that Lexile scores should never be the only consideration, as they do not in any way account for content.”

We strongly believe there are no required ages for our breakdowns of books – they are right for anyone who is ready to read them; and of course consulting with your parents is the best way to go when moving up to more complicated books or subjects. But it’s always fine to look back down the types of books to read things that you like, or to see books with great pictures, or just things you read and enjoyed and want to re-read and enjoy again!

Young Adult books can be on any topics. We frequently mention YA books in all our episodes, and are YA readers. We link to an article with 100 recommended YA books, and it breaks down their YA books into a few categories:

  • Relationships, Friendship, Family
  • Depression, Mental Illness, Addiction, Suicide, Sexual Assault
  • Racism
  • Male Lead Characters
  • Settings And Cultures Outside The U.S.
  • LGBT
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian
  • Historical Fiction
  • Contemporary Native American
  • Main Character Overcoming An Illness, Physical Challenge, Or Learning Disability
  • Hard To Pin Down

It’s great to read 20 minutes a day! “Books offer almost three times as many interesting or complicated words outside the general vocabulary of a sixth grader, compared to even the most educated speakers. Simply relying on conversation to increase vocabulary falls short of what can be gained through reading.” Reading 20 minutes a day – 3600 minutes/school year –  means that by the end of 6th grade a person has been exposed to 1,800,000 words. Reading 5 minutes a day give you exposure to 282,000 words, and only one minute a day only exposes a person to 8,000 words.

The importance of diversity in children’s books has been emphasized over and over again. So much research now is showing the lack of diversity of all sorts in books aimed at kids; it really means everyone needs to be deliberate in seeking out books about people who look different than you, live in different places, have different abilities, and all sorts of other things. Reading is a fantastic adventure, and you can really broaden your ideas and your experiences of the world!

Check out some of these useful resources:

Books Discussed

  • The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu
  • Theodore Boone, by John Grisham
  • Magic Tree-house series, by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Penderwicks series, by Jeanne Birdsall
  • Black Book of Colors, by Menena Cottin
  • Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
  • A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara
  • Rules of the Road, by Joan Baur
  • Little Blue Truck series, by by Alice Shertle and Jill McElmurry
  • True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi
  • The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton
    • In this mystical tale, slaves brought to America find the power to fly away to freedom in a timeless tale of hope.
  • Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
    • Naima, a Bangladeshi child, uses her artistic talents to save her family’s livelihood.  A tale of using your wits to escape hard times.
  • Carl books by Alexandra Day (so many good picture books, with beautiful pictures of Carl and his tiny charge!)
  • Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner
    • While the town sleeps, an eerie flotilla of frogs flies through on lily pads.
  • Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema
    • The trouble began when mosquito told lies so big that iguana put sticks in his ears to block out the sound.  A stunning West African folktale.
  • Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L’Engle
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


Thank you so much for joining us for this discussion! We will be back next Tuesday with another genre, more book group hosts, and all kinds of books to share and discuss. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a single episode! And if you want to hear more about the work we do in libraries – which is surprisingly fun! – subscribe to our podcast Linking Our Libraries.

Bring your book ideas, bring your beverages, and join us back here for more book discussion next Tuesday!

We support libraries!