Florida Teen Reads: an overview


Aize Hassan, Layout Editor

   Any student that has walked into the library this year has probably noticed that one bookshelf labeled “Florida Teens Read.” So, what exactly is that? The Florida Teens Read Program (FTR) annually nominates fifteen young-adult books to be part of their list. The titles are picked by a committee of school librarians and are specifically meant to engage high school students using diverse topics and formats.

    These books are not meant to be difficult classics translated to English from Middle-Italian, but instead, they are newer releases that could easily be found in the YA section of a Barnes and Noble. Although there is no specific reading level considered for the books, they are all readable for almost every high schooler. 

   This year’s list (which can be found in the media center) contains an array of fun and interesting stories. One of the fifteen books selected includes “Today Tonight Tomorrow” by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Released in 2020, the book follows two high school rivals, Rowan and Niel, that team up for their senior year scavenger hunt after overhearing a group of their classmates devised a plan to beat them. Taking place in the span of a night, a friendship blossoms between the two characters and perhaps something even more.

   The list also includes “The Black Flamingo” by Dean Atta. This 2020 release is a poem that follows the life of Michael, a bi-racial gay man. From childhood to adulthood, the story discusses heartbreak, happiness and Michael’s journey to finding himself and his true identity.

   “Rules for Vanishing” by Kate Alice Marshall is another FTR pick. Released in 2019, this is a hauntingly strange story about sisters. Annually, in the town of Briar Glen, a road leading to the ghost of Lucy Gallows opens up within a forest. Seeking the ghost, Becca disappears, trapped on the road. Sara must save her sister and despite the doubts of the people around her, she embarks a journey on the road with many creepy challenges ahead of her.

   “Stamped” by Jason Reynolds and Kendi Ibram X is a key example of how the selections on the FTR list explore diversity. This 2020 release discusses the competing ideas about race through African American history in the United States– whether it be important figures or movements– to promote antiracism. 

   To participate, students can read three of the nominated books and then vote for their favorite in April or they can participate in the Student Literacy and Media Showcase (SLAM) celebration also in April. 

   To be part of SLAM students can choose to do three different things. Firstly, they can participate in the virtual book battle Quiz Bowl in February. This requires a team of four students that have read at least five of the books on the FTR list. Secondly, they can do a 2D/3D creative expression, in which they must create a piece of art such as a poster or a ceramic piece based on the FTR titles. Thirdly, they can do a Video Creative Expression, in which they must create a FTR book trailer no longer than a minute.

   More in-depth guidelines/explanations for SLAM and books are available in the media center.

Aize Hassan