Of Note: Omnivore Hart

Submitted By:
Jessica Flaxman, 120 Education Consultancy, Belmont, MA

Books, said Franz Kafka, can be "the axe for the frozen sea within us," illuminating the humanity of others and reminding us of our own. In Melissa Hart's new collection of suggested titles for young adult readers, Better With Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens, she organizes reading lists into a number of different categories such as adoption and foster care; body image; immigration; learning differences; LGBTQIA+ youth; mental health; environmentalism; physical disability; poverty and homelessness; race and ethnicity; and religion and spirituality. Each chapter includes an introduction in which Hart briefly explains her book choices before listing a number of recommendations along with brief summaries of what the books are about. Hart is an omnivore, recommending titles from different genres, but she is especially appreciative of fiction. "Fiction," she writes in a description of Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give, "is the original virtual reality; a well-written novel makes us feel like we're right there in the scene, which can raise consciousness and save lives." Hart's book also includes an appendix of go-to resources for parents, teachers, librarians, and young readers.

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