All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Mary Amato

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Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Amato divides her time between writing and teaching writing — through classroom workshops and residencies, all-school assemblies, library programs, and teacher workshops. Amato has led writing workshops for children in poetry, song writing, fiction, mystery, and folktales, as well as workshops for teachers focusing on revision, creating character, and writer’s notebooks.


Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s and YA book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona.

She teaches popular workshops on writing and the creative process around the country. Amato has written articles, essays, and poems for magazines and newspapers, including Muse, Cicada, The Washington Post, Parenting and Mothering.

In graduate school, Amato studied fiction writing and poetry at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. She currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Learn more at the official Mary Amato website.

Selected Books

from Mary Amato

Guitar Notes

Age Level: 12-14

Two very different high school students discover a mutual appreciation for writing songs for the guitar. Tripp Broody has lost a lot; his father died and his best friend moved away and he doesn't really connect with people. In contrast, Lyla Marks is perfect. She gets good grades, her teachers love her, and she plays the cello beautifully. Forced to share a music practice room on alternating days at school, they start a pen-pal-like exchange daily that leads to a musical collaboration that promises to change both of their lives forever. Many chapters are structured as Tripp's and Lyla's notes, giving readers a unique vantage point into their burgeoning friendship.

Buy Guitar Notes

Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories

Age Level: 9-12

It all begins when Alexander H. Gory Jr. passes around a notebook in which he reveals a tantalizing secret: he has proof that their teacher, Mrs. Penrose, is a vampire. Soon the entire class is speculating and adding their opinions to the notebook until ... it lands in Mrs. Penrose’s hands. It turns out that Mrs. Penrose has been keeping a secret: she is expecting a baby. But since the notebook is encouraging her students to write and improving their spelling and grammar, Mrs. Penrose allows it to continue circulating. The notebook becomes a terrific place for jokes, poems, stories and the correspondence between the students and their favorite author.

Buy Our Teacher Is a Vampire and Other (Not) True Stories

The Naked Mole-Rat Letters

Age Level: 9-12

When her father begins a long-distance romance with a Washington, D.C. zookeeper, twelve-year-old Frankie sends fabricated e-mail letters to the zookeeper in an attempt to end the relationship in this story about family, friendship, and growing up.

Buy The Naked Mole-Rat Letters

The Word Eater

Age Level: 9-12

Life is miserable for sixth-grader Lerner Chanse at her new school, where the MPOOE (Most Powerful Ones on Earth) Club ruthlessly rules over the SLUGs (Sorry Losers Under Ground). Then Lerner accidentally discovers that her pet worm Fip eats paper — with startling results. When he eats a word, that item simply disappears from the world, forever. Now that Lerner knows about Fip's magic, she has some extraordinary powers of her own. Lerner soon discovers that extraordinary power brings extraordinary responsibility.

Buy  The Word Eater