We know that not everyone wants to read classics, romances, or dystopic stories, so we try to highlight different types of books that you can check out from the library.  This week we're highlighting urban fiction as well as stories featuring people of color.  As always, you can click on the series' names or book titles to learn more or request a copy.

"Urban fiction, also known as street lit or street fiction, is a literary genre set...in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters as the urban setting." - Wikipedia

There are several urban fiction series that might pique your interest, such as:

Kimani Tru Series by Various Authors
Kimani Tru books follow African American teens as they deal with school, dating, and friendships.

Hollywood High Series by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams
The Hollywood High series follows teens of celebrities as they deal with money, fame, and relationships.

Charly's Epic Fiasco Series by Kelli London
This series follows Charly, a teen who grew up on the streets but has dreams of becoming an actress.


There is a lot of overlap between urban fiction and stories about people of color, but they are not mutually exclusive.  If you are more interested in reading stories that feature people of color as protagonists, try these:

Cover for Endangered

Endangered by Lamar Giles
Panda (Lauren) is a photographer whose mission is to expose the secrets of the jerks at her school.  It's initially fun until a mysterious classmate exposes Panda's own secrets.

Cover for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
After a serious accident left singer Elyse mute, she decides to live a life of solitude.  During a party Elyse meets Christian, a playboy who doesn't treat her like glass.  Will Elyse give her heart to a boy who steals many hearts?

Cover for Not Otherwise Specified

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
Etta isn't gay enough for The Dykes, her old clique, and she's not skinny or white enough to be a ballerina.  Etta begins to feel alone when she meets Bianca, a straight white Caucasian.

Cover for The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Set in 1920s Oregon, this Hamlet reimaged features Hanalee, the daughter of a white woman and a black man.  When her father's accidental death is rumored to be murder, Hanalee seeks answers even though the main suspect is her stepfather.

Cover for The Boy in the Black Suit

Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Following the death of his mother, Matt takes a job at a funeral home to help take care of the bills and his alcoholic father.  Lost in loneliness, Matt meets Lovey, a confident girl who drives Matt to be a tougher person.

Cover for This Side of Home

This Side of Home by Renee Watson
Identical twins Nikki and Maya are inseparable and agreeable.  When their tough neighborhood becomes trendy, Nikki is excited while Maya is oppsed to the change.  Will this difference of opinions about their home and culture cause a rift in their sisterhood?

Cover for Scarlett Undercover

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
Scarlett is a kick-butt detective who's vowed to tackle the crime in her city.  When a new crime ring comes to town, Scarlett discovers her family might be involved.

Cover for Everything But the Truth

Everything but the Truth by Mandy Hubbard
Holly's mother works at a retirement home for wealthy people and when the grandson of a wealthy resident mistakes Holly for a relative of a resident, Holly decides to continue the ruse.  Will Malik end the relationship when he finds out Holly is the daughter of the help?

From steampunk to science fiction to thrillers, the theme of technology in the lives of humans cuts a across genres and can spark interesting conversations about the use and limits of technology.  Here are a few to get you started.  As always, you can click on the titles to request a copy.

Cover for Willful Machines

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen

In this near future thriller, scientists have created Charlotte, an artificial human with intelligence, who has uploaded her consciousness to the Internet and started terrorizing the American people—including the son of the president, Lee, who already has enough problems, like trying to keep the Secret Service off his back and figuring out what to do about his crush on new guy, Nico.

Cover for More Happy Than Not

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

This is the story of a young Hispanic boy from the Bronx dealing with grief and identity and just wanting to forget who he is — in a world where there’s a company whose offering a mind-altering procedure that can do just that.

Cover for Where Futures End

Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

Interconnected stories of five teens from two different worlds, one of of which is coming to an end, examine the way that technology and social media impact our lives in this new release.

Cover for The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

Adam fights to survive after a catastrophe knocks out power, utilities, and computer access in this thriller.

Cover for The Six

The Six by Mark Alpert

A teenager with muscular dystrophy whose main outlet is virtual reality video games is tapped to save the world from a rogue artificial intelligence program that threatens the world.

Cover for A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

The daughter of physicists who have invented an apparatus that allows travel through dimensions seeks to avenge her father’s killer this this sci-fi adventure full of romance and adventure.

Cover for Illusionarium

Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

During research for a cure for a deadly plague, a new chemical that allows for shared hallucinations is discovered. So begins a story of adventure in parallel worlds in this richly imagined historical fantasy.

Cover for Rebel Mechanics

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

In this alternate history, the British control with magic, but an underground society of mechanics and engineers hope to gain freedom through innovation in technology.

Cover for Mechanica

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwall

This Cinderella re-telling imagines Mechanica, a girl with an evil stepmother, winning her independence with her inventions at a technology fair. With hints of magic and themes of social justice, this is a captivating story — with a surprise twist. 

Flyer for Teen Program - Shoot and Edit Video

Next week is Teen Tech Week and we have a great program for you, the first in our new round of Project Next Generation (PNG)/ Teen Initiative events!  On Wednesday, March 9 at 6:00 you'll learn how to shoot and edit video to tell a story.  You can sign up online, in person at the library, or by calling us at 618-344-1112.  Space is limited, so sign up soon!

The Teen Initiative program encourages teens to learn more about science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM). It all starts with a Teen Initiative library card, which allows you to earn points by visiting the library, checking out items, attending programs, bringing friends, and more. With those points you can pay overdue fines or buy special items such as robotics kits and drawing tablets that are only available to Teen Initiative participants. Teen Initiative cardholders also gain entry to special STEAM-related programs throughout the year, plus bonus events like lock-ins. For more information, visit our Teen Initiative page.

Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of the Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Although transgender (someone whose gender identity doesn't correspond with their biological sex as it was at birth) characters and topics are becoming more visible in recent years, many of these stories are written by cisgender (someone whose gender identity corresponds with their biological sex as it was at birth) authors.  For those wanting a trans reading experience as related by someone with personal experience, here are a few books to get you started.  Please note that pronouns used in the descriptions are those provided by the Goodreads blurbs.

Cover for A + E 4ever

A+E 4ever by I merey
Let’s get right to it: this graphic novel is about two a) artistic, b) music-loving, c) Jewish, and d) genderqueer friends who consider becoming something more. From that line alone, I think it’s safe to say that we all desperately need this book.

Cover for Hello Cruel World

Hello, Cruel World by Kate Bornstein
Part memoir, part gender theory, and part humorous advice, Hello, Cruel World offers alternatives to suicide for queer youth struggling to be themselves. As one reviewer puts it, “This book is basically the “how-to” manual for the ‘It Gets Better’ project.”

Cover for Lizard Radio

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz
Set in a futuristic world that takes cues from our own, Lizard Radio follows Kivali, whose nonconformist guardian thrusts her into a camp where teens are forced to choose who they are (boy or girl, leader or follower) in order to become adults. An examination of binaries of all kinds (but especially the gender binary), it is absolutely worth investing in the hardback now!

Cover for George

George by Alex Gino
George tells the story of a girl who wants to play Charlotte in her class’s rendition of Charlotte’s Web. But when her teacher refuses, calling her a boy, she devises a plan not only to get the part, but to make everyone understand who she is along the way.

Teen Blog Archive

Teen Hot Links

  • Databases-- From encyclopedias to article searches, get started on your project
  • Online Catalog-- Search for and request books, movies, and more
  • Illinois Driving Tests-- Practice for your permit or drivers license tests with these quizzes