books

the fault in our stars

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Okay, we're a little late to the John Green fan club, but we've arrived just in time for the release of the film version of his best-seller The Fault in Our Stars! This book is a challenging, funny, poignant and deeply felt novel, and teens everywhere are buzzing about the movie that's sure to be a huge hit. What is it about this story that has captivated a nation? 

For those who may not be familiar with the book, the story centers around the burgeoning love between Hazel and Augustus, two funny, sharp and unique teens who also happen to be at varying stages in their struggle with cancer. Is it the way the teens fall in love that feels so real and refreshing? Is it the way the author tackles head-on our beliefs, misconceptions and hopes for young people who have cancer? Is it the quirkiness, the authenticity and the refusal to be one-note characters that makes us fall in love with them a little bit ourselves? For us, a big part of what makes John Green's novels so special is that you never feel like he's talking down to his readers or to his characters; they are fully-formed teenagers, full of contradictions, hopes and fears, and they are refreshing, challenging and ultimately inspiring.

This is a book for parents to read along with their teens. The emotions that you may experience reading this novel may challenge you, and will almost definitely open up space for important conversations about love, loss and more. Here's a link to a discussion guide that you can use to reflect on themes in the book. When the film hits theaters June 6, we hope you'll consider watching it together as a family (if your tween or teen will let you join them)! We know we'll be there!

Happy Earth Day!

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Today is April 22nd - Earth Day 2014! The above picture is a funny reminder to us all that we should take care of our environment every single day, but why not have a CELEBRATION at least once a year, too?

Earth Day reminds us that we have a special connection to our planet and to nature...one that goes beyond how we use it for resources and shelter. Research indicates the importance of nature in healthy childhood development. In Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods, he uses the term nature-deficit disorder to explain the correlation between an increase in social, emotional and physical health problems with the decrease of time spent in nature. 

Do you ever notice that after you have spent the entire day inside and then you finally go outside you have a feeling of relief that comes over you? This relief is more than just thankfulness that you are no longer at work or school! It's a relief that you are once again connected to nature. Our bodies cravethe outdoors and, more importantly, wild nature!

So what does this mean? It means that you can have a happier, healthier and more productive day just by taking time to walk outside, stare out your window or take a deep breath of the outdoor air. It is just that simple!

Begin a new ritual today in honor in Earth Day and make a positive change for yourself just by being outdoors. Then, join Austinites for a beautiful weekend in celebration of our great city and our beautiful Earth!

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summer reading list

The long, hot summer is here and we can think of nothing better we'd like to do than curl up with a good book under a fan, by the pool or at the beach. With so many great books out there for tweens and teens, sometimes you need a little guidance on what to get for your reader. Local gems like the Austin Public Library and Westbank Library have staff members who specialize in adolescent literature, and are always happy to help point you in a good direction. Check out APL's NBTween Book Club this summer, too! Up next is Time Cat and Nerd Camp!

Readergirlz is an online book club for adolescents that promotes literacy and social service, and can be a great way to get your social media-savvy tween excited about books again.

Local bookstore BookPeople has summer reading lists for grades 5-6, 7-8 and a whole website dedicated to teen literature with events, reviews and recommendations!

Here are a few titles we enjoy to help get you started. Happy reading!

Ages 9-12:
ALEXANDER DRAKE'S EXTRAORDINARY PURSUIT by Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows
THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT by Kate DiCamillo
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry
HOW TO ROCK GLASSES AND BRACES by Meg Haston
BIGGER THAN A BREAD BOX by Laurel Snyder
    Ages 13 and up:
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY by Ruta Sepetys
GIRLS DON’T FLY by Kristen Chandler