Gretchen Rumohr is Chief Curator of YA Wednesday. She serves as a professor of English and department chair at Aquinas College, where she teaches writing and language arts methods. She is also a Co-Director of the UNLV Summit on the Research and Teaching of Young Adult Literature. She lives with her four girls and a five-pound Yorkshire Terrier in west Michigan.
You may have noticed that this summer, YA Wednesday has taken on a less regular schedule (at least for Wednesdays). In typical summertime fashion, there has been time to play, time to read, time to rest. But behind the scenes of this summer, there have been other challenges: children who are also off of school and require care and attention; hospitalizations and follow-ups; disruptions in custody schedules. Throughout these bumps, my goal continues to be an ongoing conversation about the value of YA literature in our, and our students’ lives.
Which brings me to today’s goal. My own summer’s theme has been caring for loved ones who struggle with depression and self-harm. And in looking for support on this theme, I notice that there are plenty of books in the “grade 9 and up” category that address mental health–yet very few books in the “tween” category. This is especially challenging if a tween is a reluctant or struggling reader.
Our tweens–who are on waiting lists at psychiatrists’ offices, can’t find counselors who participate in their insurance, or are struggling quietly, alone, afraid to even tell someone what’s actually on their mind–need to be seen and heard. They need to see themselves represented in accessible, high-interest YA books.
Let’s use this space today to share all of our favorite tween books that address mental health.