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Recommended Reads: Check out these young adult novels during TeenTober

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Demand for picture books explaining traumatic events such as school shootings has grown dramatically, according to publishers. Experts say these books can help kids process their feelings. Using picture books and puppets, Ian Ellis James, known by his stage name "Electric," works with children on gun violence prevention in New York City. "If I could just use a puppet, if I can write some books, if I can use some songs and then go out and start with a five year old, six year old... I think I can change behavior, so that's the strategy," James, an Emmy award-winning Sesame Street writer, said. As anxiety and depression rates rise among young Americans experts say demand for resources like children's books dealing with trauma are also increasing.

Omaha Public Library wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in this space, employees will recommend reading based on different writing genres, themes or styles.

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TeenTober is a nationwide celebration hosted by libraries every October and aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services help teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. In recognition of TeenTober, our staff offers some of their favorite reads for teens. Find these books and learn more about resources for teens at your neighborhood branch or

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“That Way Madness Lies” edited by Dahlia Adler. This short story collection of Shakespeare’s works takes the spirit of the originals and gives them modern life as diverse and LBGTQIA+-rich stories. With 15 reimagined works, this collection has something for everyone. — Jenn Flegle, youth services specialist at A.V. Sorensen Branch

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“The Name She Gave Me” by Betty Culley. This is a beautiful novel-in-verse is about adoption, family, and the complexities that come with both. Rynn (also known as Scheherazade) always knew she was adopted, but because it was a closed adoption, never knew very much about her biological family. She finds that her given name is a clue to learning more. — Sydney Groh, youth services specialist at Saddlebrook Branch

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“Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” by Mariko Tamaki. This graphic novel is a coming-of-age story about an LGBT teen with relationship woes. Frederica’s charismatic and cool girlfriend Laura Dean keeps breaking up with her. After being humiliated at the school dance, Frederica attempts to break the cycle. This dreamy pastel story is a grounded tale of learning to love yourself after a toxic relationship. — Isabella Janssen, youth services specialist at Millard Branch

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“All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team” by Christina Soontornvat. The author tells the true story of the Thai soccer team that decided to explore a series of caves in Thailand one evening. Unbeknownst to them, rain would soon come, filling the caves and preventing them from leaving. The lengths so many went to in order to rescue these boys and their coach was unbelievable. The detailed account of this news story cleared up a lot of questions I had about the incident. Highly recommend! — Douglas A. Keel, clerk at W. Clarke Swanson Branch

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“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the first book in The Raven Cycle series, a story about dreams, magicians, high school and ghosts. It follows four private school students and the daughter of a psychic on their quest to discover the secrets of a long-dead Welsh king who is sleeping under their feet. It’s moody and atmospheric, set in a mythic Virginia town called Henrietta, and stars some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. The mystery of this odd little town is compelling, but what really draws you in is the tight-knit found family these characters have created. — Hannah Meckna, library specialist at Willa Cather Branch

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“Heiress Apparently” by Diana Ma. Gemma gets her first big break starring in an American movie filming in Beijing. She discovers surprising facts about her family history while battling the movie director’s stereotypical portrayal of gender roles. — Nancy Novotny, youth & family services manager at Omaha Public Library

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“A Magic Steeped in Poison” by Judy I. Lin. Ning is a shénnóng-tú — an apprentice in shénnóng, the magical art of tea brewing. After she unknowingly brews the poisoned tea that kills her mother, she enters a competition at the capital to become the emperor’s next shénnóng-shi, or master in shénnóng, in order to save her younger sister from the same fate. This fast-paced Chinese mythology-inspired fantasy is full of suspense, court intrigue, and a cool magic system based on the art of brewing tea and Chinese traditional medicine. — Grace Trembath, youth services specialist at Willa Cather Branch

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“The Alchemyst” by Michael Scott. Fifteen-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman are caught up in a battle between Dr. John Dee and Nicholas Flamel, two immortal alchemists, for a book holding the secrets to eternal life. Along the way, they meet a variety of characters from different world mythologies, while also learning that they may have magical powers themselves. — Trembath

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“A Spy in the House” by Y. S. Lee. In this Victorian mystery, 12-year-old orphan and thief Mary Quinn is saved from the gallows and given a chance at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, a training ground for young private investigators masquerading as a finishing school. At age 17, Mary is charged with investigating a wealthy merchant suspected of pirating treasures from India. The first book in The Agency series, A Spy in the House covers issues such as class differences, racial discrimination, and the role of women in Victorian society. — Trembath

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“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. This book has all the feels! From the catastrophe that is wearing a uniform in gym class to the breathtaking nuances of holding hands, Eleanor & Park will have you remembering your first love all over again. Every moment is held preciously, even with the heartbreaking realities of Eleanor’s life at home. Enjoy this quick and enchanting romantic read from our very own Omaha author, Rainbow Rowell. — Jacqueline Wilber, EdD, youth services librarian at South Omaha Library

Omaha Public Library's Recommended Reads

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In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, OPL staff have recommended some titles by or about civil rights leaders, movements and efforts. 

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Winter officially begins on Dec. 21, and Omaha Public Library staff have recommended some winter or cold-weather-related selections to cozy up with this season.

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It's the winter holiday season, and OPL staff have recommended some selections to enjoy between now and New Year’s Day. Find these books and more at one of OPL’s 12 locations or

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Today is Black Poetry Day — a day to celebrate the work and contributions of Black poets. 

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In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, OPL staff have recommended books by or about Hispanic Americans. 

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As students head back to school, Omaha Public Library staffers have suggested some of their favorite back-to-school reads. Find these books and more at one of OPL’s 12 locations or

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Omaha Public Library wants to help readers find new books — or at least books new to them. Every month in this space, OPL employees will recom…

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