Diversity Reading Challenge

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: What Books are There for Teens?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I thought that since May is Mental Health Awareness month I would share with you a few books for young adults that discuss mental illness, suicide or abuse.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Impulse Ellen Hopkins

Looking for Alaska John Green

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Unconventional Librarian

Parents be sure to read these titles along with your kids to encourage discussion. Most kids know someone who has had suicidal thoughts or is struggling with mental illness. These titles will also qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge.


A Christmas Carol – The Concert

Every year many families engage in their holiday traditions.  My family is no different.  I have been a public television fan since  Sesame Street and Mister Rogers came on the air.  In the Philadelphia metro region, I have come to look forward to watching holiday shows on my local station, WHYY.  We are Dickens fans and competitively seek the latest or oldest or most unusual retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  My husband is a fan of the ghastly old Jacob Marley and his shackles.

Imagine my delight when I discovered there was a musical version of my fave holiday tale!

A Christmas Carol – The Concert, is the classic Dickens tale performed as a dramatic concert featuring a full symphony orchestra, choir, rhythm section, a Narrator, and three soloists. With a brand new score by Bob Christianson and Alisa Hauser, A Christmas Carol – The Concert has musical styles that range from classical and Broadway, to blues and gospel. Hear and see this classic ghost story as you’ve never heard it before!

I watched A Christmas Carol with trepidation; fearful that my Dickensian fantasies would be torn to shreds by a goofy guitar riff or an unusually uptempo piano beat.

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I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed! A Christmas Carol – The Concert was everything I’d hoped it would be.  It was the same tale that I loved, married by that magical je ne sais quoi that only public television can provide.  A Christmas Carol certainly should be sung! The full throated narrator (E. Faye Butler) jolts you out of your seat as she introduces the tale.  You are hooked as the performance draws you in.  I didn’t move until Belle (Arya Daire) and Scrooge’s (Michael Aaron Linder) break up scene.  Who knew a break up could be so emotional? I moved to grab tissues; I knew I would need more.

And I did need more tissues.  Even though we all know the story of poor little Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit’s (one of many roles played by the talented Scott Coulter) beautiful ode to his son left me weeping and cursing old miserly Scrooge. Even though we all know how A Christmas Carol ends, isn’t it grand to see the old miser’s face wake up and realize he’s gotten a chance at redemption?

Yes it is. It is quite grand.

And so is this musical performance.  Start to finish the concert kept me entertained and will be part of my holiday tradition in the future.

Now I want a sparkly jacket like the orchestra conductor (Amy Duran) and I want to learn to speak as majestically as The Narrator.    In fact, I may practice on everyone I meet.

After I watch A Christmas Carol – The Concert one more time.

A Christmas Carol – The Concert airs December 22, check your local TV listings.  Come back and tell me how you loved it!