Big News: We're Going to High School!

I agonized over how to write this post because I want to convey how excited I am, how full of hope, how humbled, how... overwhelmed. I don't think I can do it. So I'm just going to spit it out in plain old, unemotional words.

Yesterday I met with a group of folks from Whatever It Takes, a new organization here in Athens. I'm definitely going to fill you in on what they're doing, but right now let's focus on what it means for Books for Keeps.

I've been working, working, working to have a large-scale book drive in Athens sometime this fall. But I've had so much trouble finding drop off locations for the books. I have no reputation preceding me, no clout. I have no talent or method for creating signs for my bins. I have no media contacts to spread the word. I have very few helpers to sort books, retrieve them from drop-off locations, deliver them to schools. In other words: Books for Keeps has books, but no resources.

Whatever It Takes has resources galore: business partners, volunteers, media contacts, creative and technical supporters. BUT: It turns out part of their mission is to make books available to Athens kids.... and they have no books. Could this be a match made in heaven? I hope so. What I do know is they've offered to help with a book drive. A BIG book drive.

They've agreed to my only "term and condition": the kids get to own the books. I've agreed to their only "term and condition": Books for Keeps will expand beyond elementary school.

So it's official y'all: we are collecting books for kids and young adults of ALL ages, K-12. And our chances of success just increased exponentially.

What if... what if... geez, I've got chillbumps! What if every child in Athens was a book owner... had something to read right there at home... kept reading over summer...

Whatever It Takes has a massive goal: for every child in Athens not only to "stay in school" and graduate, but to go on to a post-secondary education that prepares them for an actual career. College, technical school, trade school... any kind of education that prepares them for real jobs, with real marketable skills.

What a beautiful future that would be. Isn't it wonderful that Books for Keeps can help?

Please send me your book recommendations for middle school and high school kids. Of course I want your books too! But I'll be developing a wish list (Whatever It Takes even has reading experts!) and your suggestions will help a lot.

It seems funny to say I'm at a loss for words at the end of such a long post, but I've only given you the facts. You're going to have to use your imagination to fill in the excitement and hope and awe hiding behind the words.

This is a big day for Books for Keeps. But stay focused! Spread the word... and send me your books.


  1. My son loved the Warriors series by Erin Hunter about warrior clans of cats. The other son reads everything Star Wars. I like Tamora Pierce's books in the Magic Circle series which are young adult as well.

  2. Melaney I am so excited I might vomit! (in the good way, rainbows and unicorns,etc).

  3. Melaney, Our imagination filled in the excitement: I have goosebumps on my arms. Awesome news. Lori

  4. That is fantastic news!

    For YA books, I would suggest the following authors:

    Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
    Coe Booth
    Angela Johnson

    I'm sure there are more, will try to think of them later. Congratulations!


  5. Melanie, I'm filled with excitement, hope, and awe at YOU! Your energy, enthusiasm, dedication, work and heart are helping so many kids.
    Thank you!!!

  6. Awesome stuff, very happy to read this news. The Phantom Tollbooth (Norman Juster) was a favorite of mine as a pre-teen. An adventure kids can truly lose themselves in, with fun, clever characters. I give it to all my nephews and friends' kids. I'll try to get you some copies.

  7. Great News :)

    I find that most of the books on the 'Teens Top 10' lists are very popular x


  8. Congratulations Melaney! I'm thrilled for you and will help in whatever way I can from a distance :)

  9. For authors, I'd recommend:
    Tamora Pierce (her younger books are good for age nine or so, but several of them have an older bent that's great for middle and high-school students; my friends and I are still getting her newest ones and finding them great, and we're in college).
    Diane Duane (grades 5-10, depending on the exact book; her Young Wizards series is excellent).
    Caroline B. Cooney (The Face on the Milk Carton, and its sequels, are excellent pieces of work. Grades 7-12 or so).
    Vivian Vande Velde (Some of her fantasy stories, like Heir Apparent, I was reading and loving in third grade; others are better for middle and high-school students).
    Scott Westerfield (The Midnighter's trilogy for middle schools; others by him are still in my high school library).
    John Marsden (The Ellie Chronicles. A group of teenagers convince their parents to let them go on an unsupervised co-ed campout in the Australian Outback during the same week their country gets attacked by an unknown nation, so they become guerrilla fighters. Grades seven through twelve).
    Margaret Peterson Haddix (Her Shadow Children series kept me enthralled from age ten to eighteen, but that's because I couldn't get the last few in the series until they were written. I'd say they're good for middle-schoolers).
    Cory Doctorow (His books have real-life applications, deal with real-life issues, and are downright awesome. He also posts several for free on the internet; Little Brother is available as a free download. I adored it my senior year; it's only been out a few years. His other books are similarly excellent).

    I could keep going, but this is getting a bit long. Good luck!

  10. I have a TON of books, but most of them are "adult" books; current events, history, religion and the like. I'm not sure they are exactly the books that you are looking for. I was originally going to have a "book sale" and sell the hardbacks for a dollar and the paperbacks for 50 cents. Let me know if there would be any interest in the books I have. A lot of them are critiques of the Bush administration, books on the Iraq war, just a lot of current events books.

  11. Fantastic! So glad I mooched all those teen-horror things. If only I could get BookMooch to reset my mooch ratio, but they said, "No." :-(


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