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

Rita Williams-Garcia

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Rita Williams-Garcia is the bestselling author of novels for young adults and middle grade readers — including Clayton Byrd Has Gone Underground and her trilogy about the Gaither sisters(One Crazy Summer, PS Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama). Many of her books are rooted in our recent American history and all her stories brim with the authentic voices of young people. Her novels have received numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalist, Newbery Honor Book, and Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. In this interview, you'll learn about the origins of One Crazy Summer, why Williams-Garcia always does deep research for her books, and what she does to push through writer's block (it might surprise you!).

Selected Books

from Rita Williams-Garcia

Blue Tights

Age Level: 9-12

Joyce is 15-years old with all the recognizable ups and downs of adolescence. She finally comes to terms with herself and others when she finds expression through dance though not the ballet she thought she wanted.

Buy Blue Tights

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Age Level: 9-12

Clayton Byrd adores his grandfather, loves the jazz Cool Papa plays with the other bluesmen in the park; Clayton wants to be a musician, too. But when Cool Papa Byrd dies suddenly, Clayton is overcome with grief. His mother who has never resolved her own childhood remains at arm’s length though his father attempts to reach the boy. Clayton tries to join the park bluesmen but instead finds a different kind of music with a gang of street kids in the New York subway. Likeable characters populate this fast-paced novel.

Buy  Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Like Sisters on the Homefront

Age Level: Teen

Fourteen year old Gayle just can’t seem to stay out of trouble with her boyfriend. So Gayle and her baby are sent to Georgia to live with relatives. Especially her feisty, solitary great grandmother helps Gayle come to appreciate the importance of family, friendship and more in this gritty and memorable novel.

Buy  Like Sisters on the Homefront

One Crazy Summer

Age Level: 9-12

Eleven year old Delphine and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, leave their native Brooklyn to visit their long-estranged mother in California. Cecile not warm towards her daughters, seemingly concentrating only on her poetry. Delphine narrates the first of three books which is set in Oakland, 1968. While on their own, the girls learn about the Black Panthers, how political movements impact individuals, and even how to reconnect with Cecile.

Buy  One Crazy Summer

P.S. Be Eleven

Age Level: 9-12

Readjusting to life in Brooklyn is tough after One Crazy Summer with their mother in California. Delphine and her sisters not only have to deal with their strict grandmother, their uncle has just returned from Vietnam a changed man, and their father has a new love interest. The 1960s come alive in this memorable novel sure to be embraced by those who know Delphine and her family as well as those just meeting them for the first time.

Buy P.S. Be Eleven

No Laughter Here

Age Level: 12-14

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?

Buy No Laughter Here