Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Reach Out Reads

on May 10, 2011

I am often looking for “issue” books to use with the youth at the juvenile detention center. “Issue books” are those YA books which deal primarily with an issue such as: addiction, teen pregnancy, depression, or suicide. In June, the Denney kids and I will be reading books and memoirs about various addictions ranging from gambling through substance. We’ll be using the books as jump off places to talk and then write poetry about addiction.

Teens often don’t want to talk about issues they are facing (I didn’t as a teen), and instead many turn to YA novels to help them with those issues. Lately, issue novels have not been in favor, and I was happy to find this article today from the School Library Journal about the ReachOut Read Program.

This month is Mental Health Awareness month and  the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) selected 10 YA fiction titles for the Reachout Reads program, including Matt de la Peña’s Ball Don’t Lie (Delacorte, 2005) and Courtney Summers’s Some Girls Are (St. Martin’s, 2010), each book is tied to a particular issue.

ReachOut Reads is an initiative of the Inspire USA Foundation, a nonprofit organization that creates technology-based services for promoting mental health and suicide prevention. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) selected 10 YA fiction titles for the program, including Matt de la Peña’s Ball Don’t Lie (Delacorte, 2005) and Courtney Summers’s Some Girls Are (St. Martin’s, 2010), each tied to a particular issue.

This month, Reach Out Reads will be offering live chats with 12 different YA authors through May 26 over the video streaming site Ustream, giving teens a chance to talk to their favorite writers about tough topics from eating disorders to how to help a friend in need.

ReachOut is an information and support service using evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues. They have a blog and website in which all content is written by teens and young adults, for teens and young adults, to meet them where they are, and help them recognize their own strengths and use those strengths to overcome their difficulties and/or seek help if necessary.

Dystopian, paranormal, and other trends in YA books may come and go, but issue books will never go out of favor because our teens need a way to talk about those very real issues which impact their lives.

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