Turning Heads with TeenTober

By Megan Ciskowski, Associate Publicist

What do young adults get really excited about? Art, music, cosplay? The library is the perfect place to introduce teens to their next great love.

In 2020, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) launched the TeenTober™ program to replace the Teen Read Week™ and Teen Tech Week™ events. Held throughout the month of October, this celebration gives libraries the opportunity to advocate for their year-round teen services. A complete toolkit can be found on the YALSA website here which includes display ideas and fun educational activities.

Prepare your TeenTober™ scheduling with the following YA fiction and nonfiction! Each title has free downloadable resources to boost young adult engagement.


Funeral Girl by Emma K. Ohland

When Georgia revives the spirit of a recently deceased classmate at her family’s funeral home, she’s forced to sort out her complex feelings about grief and mortality.

Praise for Funeral Girl

“[G]ive Ohland’s first novel high marks for its unusual premise and vivid characterization of its imperfect protagonist.” — Booklist

“Touched by the supernatural, this debut grapples with grief and mental health, exploring the differing ways people cope with emotions, how the living memorialize the dead, and who is entitled to mourn them. . . . the narrative handles the heavy topic of death with honest complexity.”—Kirkus Reviews

Free Educator Resource

Download the free discussion guide to get teens talking.

Gold Mountain by Betty G. Yee

In the 1860s, Tam Ling Fan needs money to help her father. Disguised as a boy, she travels from China to America to take a dangerous job as a laborer on the Transcontinental Railroad.

Praise for Gold Mountain

★”An exceptionally told story that will satisfy readers of history, mystery, and adventure while providing food for thought.”—starred, Booklist

“Gold Mountain is the historical tale of a courageous daughter whose determination helps to change the face of America, as well as her Chinese family’s fortunes.”—Foreword Reviews

“An adventure-filled glimpse into history through the eyes of a determined daughter.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A thought-provoking adventure that adds more nuance and complexity to the history of the building of the transcontinental railroad.”—School Library Journal

Free Educator Resources

Take advantage of both the discussion guide and the teaching guide with extra research links. Download it here.

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

In 1890s West Africa, twin sisters Hassana and Husseina are torn apart by violence and must build individual lives for themselves an ocean apart. But the choices they make may eventually reunite them.

Praise for The Deep Blue Between

★”This sweeping story is rich in detail, and the settings are vividly evoked. . . . A successful exploration of rich cultural experiences and enduring familial connections.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

“[O]ffers a compelling view of West African history as a backdrop for a story of sibling bonding and coming of age. . . . Themes such as enslavement, religion, diversity, feminism, British colonization, and treatment of the mentally ill are candidly addressed and seamlessly woven into the complex, captivating story.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Free Educator Resources

The Deep Blue Between has some unique resources available including a discussion guide, recipes, and geography notes! Download both documents here.

The Secret Life of Kitty Granger by G. D. Falksen

In 1967 London, sixteen-year-old Kitty Granger, a working-class girl on the autism spectrum, is recruited to spy for the British government. On her very first mission, she must foil a fascist plot and save the country.

Praise for The Secret Life of Kitty Granger

Connecticut Book Awards Finalist

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee

“[T]his rip-roaring tale starring a compelling heroine will satisfy anyone looking for a fun, quirky adventure.”—Booklist

“[A] ripping read that is historically grounded, drawing a direct line from past events to current debates over diversity, immigration, and the eternal peril of fascism. Nail-biting fascism-fighting featuring an atypical heroine.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A fun thriller spotlighting a neurodivergent protagonist . . .”—School Library Journal

“A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from cover to cover.”—Midwest Book Review

Free Educator Resources

This thriller YA has so many fun activities including character sheets, crosswords, and directions for invisible ink! Download them all here.

Where I Belong by Marcia Argueta Mickelson

Guatemalan American high school senior Millie Vargas struggles to balance her family’s needs with her own ambitions, especially after her mother’s employer, a Senate candidate, uses Millie as a poster child for “deserving” immigrants.

Praise for Where I Belong

Pura Belpré Award Author Honor

Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year

ILA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award Honorable Mention

Writers’ League of Texas Discovery Prize

★”Full of thought-provoking conversations, messy answers, and lots of heart, this novel’s a quiet knockout. Utterly compelling.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

★”[N]ot to be missed. There is truth on every page—about love, restraint, and integrity.”—starred, School Library Journal

“[A]n appealing, authentic story featuring engaging, realistic characters.”—Booklist

“The reader is drawn into Millie’s heartbreaking inner monologue as the story pointedly cultivates informed empathy for the diversity of immigrant experiences, while emphasizing the importance of humility for those who stand as allies.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Free Educator Resource

The discussion guide will help start conversations about this title’s complex subject matter. Download the eSource here.


Attention Hijacked: Using Mindfulness to Reclaim Your Brain from Tech by Erica B. Marcus

For years, scientists have warned that too much screen time negatively impacts our health. Attention Hijacked explores exactly how technology affects consumers, dispels misinformation, and helps readers make personal usage decisions. Page Plus links lead to mindfulness and meditation audio clips.

Praise for Attention Hijacked

★”Cover[s] various aspects of mindfulness, with Marcus advising students what to do about all the busyness we face in this tech-fueled world. . . . lively and deeply relevant work that is a must for school and public libraries.”—starred, Booklist

“A valuable handbook for developing a healthy relationship with technology.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This book guides teens to healthy tech habits by giving them agency to make informed choices.”—School Library Journal

Free Educator Resource

Give this technology survey to your young adult readers to start a conversation about how tech may be affecting their lives. Download the survey here.

Genomics: A Revolution in Health and Disease Discovery by Hans C. Andersson, MD and Whitney Stewart

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the field of genetic studies has transitioned into an era of discovery. Explore the breakthroughs in research that inform our understanding of ancestry, inheritance, epigenetics, health, and medicine.

Praise for Genomics

★”An excellent bridge between real-world technology applications of biotechnology and what students learn in their biology classrooms.”—starred, School Library Journal

“A clear, understandable, and well-sourced look at how advances in genomic medicine alter the treatment of diseases, with thought-provoking ideas to consider regarding the ethics of human genetic modification.”—Booklist

“High-quality, curiosity-sparking brain fuel.”—Kirkus Reviews

Free Educator Resource

This title has an extensive teaching guide which includes discussion questions and a crossword puzzle! Download this free resource here.

Glowing Bunnies!?: Why We’re Making Hybrids, Chimeras, and Clones by Jeff Campbell

Modern genetic technology has the potential to remake animals in almost any way we can imagine. With reassuring, wry humor, Glowing Bunnies!? explores the possibilities, dangers, and ethical issues of bioengineering.

Praise for Glowing Bunnies!?

“Divided into five parts, this fascinating, detailed text focuses on how genetic engineering could help animal conservation and the extinction crisis, restore damaged ecosystems, make agriculture more efficient and less polluting, create unusual and useful pets, and fight or eliminate disease in both animals and humans. . . . presents safety and ethical pros and cons, raises legal considerations, and asks guided questions but ultimately allows readers to decide for themselves.”—Booklist

“A controversial subject presented with verve that allows readers to make up their own minds.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Campbell’s intriguing, easily digestible foray into animal gene editing, its effects on present and future scientific climates, and its contemplation on whether these practices are ethically responsible, practical, or inherently harmful proves thought-provoking. This enlightening work encourages readers to ask questions and conduct their own research, while maintaining that science continues evolving and changing faster than one can blink.”—Publishers Weekly

“The book is written in a friendly, age-appropriate style with genetic engineering terms and procedures well defined. Young readers will enjoy popular culture references to Jurassic Park and Frankenstein that make the complicated subject matter more relatable. Colorful captioned photographs and larger font headings balance the text in each chapter. The work also aids future reading and reference with an extensive bibliography, source notes, and glossary. Libraries looking to update their science collections for middle grade students will want to consider this nicely packaged publication.”—School Library Journal

Free Educator Resources

Bioengineering affects our lives in numerous ways. Open up real-world discussions with the teaching guide. Download this resource here.

No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind

History has often ignored men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Lee Wind examines primary source letters, poems, and more to rethink the lives and loves of historical figures.

Praise for No Way, They Were Gay?

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books

ILA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award

“[S]olidly written, well-documented and organized . . . a modest, well-intentioned contribution to gay history.”—Booklist

“At a time where issues of social justice are often deemed either overinflated or ‘solved,’ Lee Wind makes a powerful case that queer historical erasure is an ongoing issue.”—Foreword Reviews

“Entertaining, illuminating, and an accessible antidote to dominant histories.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Using primary sources to frame an alternative historical narrative, and asking readers to form their own conclusions, Wind sets out to fill some of those gaps, focusing primarily on the same-sex relationships or nonbinary identities of 12 well-known public figures.”—Publishers Weekly

Free Educator Resource

Download the free teaching guide to pair with this snazzy title! Visit this page for the pdf.

Teen Innovators: Nine Young People Engineering a Better World with Creative Inventions by Fred Estes

Celebrate the determination and ingenuity of young inventors. Through profiles that explore the challenges, motivations, and lives of these teen visionaries, readers will see how the science they study today in school relates to these important discoveries.

Praise for Teen Innovators

“The rich variety of individuals and projects highlighted will encourage budding scientists. A compelling read for teens interested in the STEM fields and an inspirational resource for science classrooms.”—Kirkus Reviews

“While all faced challenges, these teens forged ahead toward their visions with creative confidence. Design thinking and other creative problem-solving skills may help you, too, unleash your own inspiration. Fred’s book does a great job of getting you started on your journey.” –David Kelley, founder of Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford and IDEO, co-author of Creative Confidence

Free Educator Resources

This brand new title has an extensive teaching guide that lays out research and activities for each chapter. Download this guide here.

Find more booklists on the Lerner blog here!

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