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Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Needed now more than ever: a guide that includes 500 diverse contemporary fiction and memoir recommendations for preteens and teens with the goal of inspiring greater empathy for themselves, their peers, and the world around them.
As young people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression in increasing numbers, or dealing with other issues that can isolate them from famil
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Sasquatch Books
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  94 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Start your review of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won an advanced copy of this book. Each chapter centers on a different topic...race and ethnicity, body image, learning challenges, etc. The chapters conclude with a list of contemporary titles for preteens and teens. This is an excellent resource for parents, teachers, librarians, and counselors!
Lacey Louwagie
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
So, I love books, and I love books about books, so this one was pretty much a shoe-in for my approval.

This book reference book is SO easy to use, with the book lists divided first into topics, and within the topics also divided by age-group. It's a librarian, teacher's, or book-lover's dream. All the featured books were published within the last 10 years, so you can feel assured of a similar "sensibility" around hot-topic issues to what kids and teens are experiencing today. My copy is full of
Heather Durham
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I wish this book had been around when I was young, but I am so relieved it is now, when we need it more than ever. I love the layout, with book suggestions divided into subject areas and prefaced by short essays of introduction to the topics. This not only saves hours and days of research for busy teachers, librarians, and parents, but the essays add so much to this collection. Hart’s personal stories, anecdotes, and reflections add texture and depth that make this book worth a read even aside f ...more
Kathleen Goodman
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a child and teen therapist this book is so helpful to me so I can recommend great reads for teens and tweens that address issues they are dealing with.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A librarian's dream. Such a great resource! ...more
Conor Sales
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In an era of the internet, we often feel as though we've been given access to the whole world, but in reality, we use it to find others like ourselves and find ourselves distanced from those different from us. Sustained interaction with different ideas and cultures is essential to understanding them, and Better with Books provides an overwhelming pick of reads to develop that understanding. Her research into the world of diverse literature is the most comprehensive you'll find anywhere, and you ...more
Kristin DeGarmo
I enjoyed reading about the different books for each topic. I was disappointed by some of the books being included multiple times in different sections. While I get that, it was kind of annoying reading about the same books multiple times. Anyway, it’s a good resource for books for teens and preteens.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. So many choices, and lots of ideas for people who are looking for that just right book for those tweens and teens in their lives.
Karen Filewych
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must have for librarians and teachers of preteens and teens!
Victoria B.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Things I liked:
- It's a book about books!
- The book's organization - each chapter was a different topic; there was a short intro to the topic before the list of books.
- Sections for "preteens" and "teens" so the reader can find age-appropriate options.
- It's a great resource for teachers and librarians when kids are looking for specific topics.
- I was introduced to a fair number of new-to-me books that looked interesting.

Things I didn't like:
- Topic intros seemed a little long.
- Some o
Anneke Alnatour
We are always looking for book recommendations, especially for more diverse books. The girls really got interested that some of their favourites were on the list (Front Desk for B, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for L), and we have tried quite some books since, and haven't been disappointed so far!

I really enjoyed the fact that there is a difference made between tween and teen books, as I cannot see my girls reading teen books yet, but the books they have read from the tween list were wonderf
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very useful collection development aid. It was nice to see that we already had a lot of the books listed in the various chapters, and I was able to add even more to a future book order list. I can see that this book will become less useful as time goes on because the bulk of it is lists of recommended books that deal with the various diversity topics included in the book, and those lists will become dated and incomplete. I really liked how each chapter had two lists, one for tweens an ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: past-read-2019
Great complication of books for preteens and teens to read to help them develop empathy. I like the way they lists were broken down into categories and then into the age groups. This would be a wonderful resource for any middle school/high school librarian or a teen librarian. This would also be a great book for parents who want to share excellent books with their kids. Could have great discussions.
Mary DeMocker
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is genius. I love that it describes so many novels -- 500! -- and that they're all recently published; young people can really relate to them and the real-world problems the characters face. This is a powerful resources for libraries, parents, counselors, and educators, including religious educators. ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a teacher, this was such an amazing resource to stumble upon! I added so many books to my To Read list and found some of my favorites on some lists, too. Overall, the lists and blurbs in each section led me to find many high-quality books that address so many of life’s big challenges. I hope my readers can connect with or learn to have empathy through these books!
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great resource for middle grade and young adult teachers and librarians and parents and caregivers as well. Wish I had used the categories as goodreads shelves.

Adoption and foster care
Body image
Learning challenges
LGBTQIA+ youth
Mental health
Nature and environmentalism
Physical disability
Poverty and homelessness
Race and ethnicity
Religion and spirituality
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book discussing different topics that important for Teens/Tweens, each topic includes a list of books on the topic for tweens and for teens. A great resource for a librarian or teacher who works with tweens/teens.
Amber K.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book would be an awesome gift for a new upper elementary or middle school reading teacher! The book recommendations are spot on and I love that they move away from the basic genres and focus on more important themes!
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good resource. There were books that I hadn't heard of, and a few that I had heard of, but this books' synopsis convinced me to read. This would be a nice start for a diversity audit for a library YA collection. ...more
Rea Scott
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A good resource. Nicely curated book lists by age and topic.

I'm going to keep this handy for those "do you have a book about..." questions.

Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really excellent resource for anyone who has a tween or teen in their life. I do wish she had included older books as well.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An awesome resource for anyone needing to find books featuring diverse characters. I'm using it to find books featuring characters on the Autism spectrum for the teen collection. ...more
sophia ☽
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks, Papa, for picking this out for me at the library! 😘
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good after reading it when it came in for the collection I went and bought it immediately so I can just keep in my office and handy for whenever I need it
Trigger warnings: mentions of bullying, family separation, mental health. That covers the essay sections. Also trigger warnings for basically anything you can think of in the descriptions of the 500 books this mentions.

3.5 stars.

I read this for work and I've come out the other side with a list of dozens of books I'd never heard of to chase down and read that sounded fantastic, so reading it was definitely a positive experience. I also appreciated that the vast majority of the books in here wer
John Hannam
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Oregon author Melissa Hart has compiled a spectacular resource for parents, teachers, and kids. This book provides reading recommendations for tweens/teens, their parents, and classroom teachers. The topics spread a wide berth of challenging topics; racism, body image, and disabilities. I've read some of her recommendations and found some new books to dive into as well.

As a parent, this book truly helped me identify books to introduce my kids to. I can read alongside them and we can discuss thes
Hannah Davais
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
A book about book recommendations. Yes.
Great book, though I think it needs to have an update soon especially with all the great books that it can be added.
rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2020
Claire Griebler Bednar
rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2019
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I like owls. And traveling. I like kayaking and hiking and camping all over Oregon with my husband and 11-year old daughter. I like cats, adoption, nature, and my lesbian mothers. I'm particularly fond of Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.

My award-winning middle-grade novel, Avenging the Owl, was published by Sky Pony Press in 2016. I also wrote the YA memoir, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhoo

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