“Better with Books” by Melissa Hart

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RWYK Exclusive: Melissa Hart opens up on her new book “Better with Books”


Happy Saturday readers!

Today on the podcast we’re ELATED to introduce Melissa Hart, the author of Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens (Sasquatch, 2019)

If you’re a parent of tweens or teens, or you work with them, Better with Books is an absolute must-have reference book. Essays about important topics, such as body image, mental health, and race, are brimming with personal stories, author interviews, and other helpful information. You’ll also find five hundred recommended books for preteens and teens organized by topic, with summaries of each title.

Tune in to learn more about this gem of a book!




Better with BooksNeeded now more than ever: a guide that includes 500 diverse contemporary fiction and memoir recommendations for preteens and teens with the goal of inspiring greater empathy for themselves, their peers, and the world around them.

As young people are diagnosed with anxiety and depression in increasing numbers, or dealing with other issues that can isolate them from family and friends–such as bullying, learning disabilities, racism, or homophobia–characters in books can help them feel less alone. And just as important, reading books that feature a diverse range of real-life topics helps generate openness, empathy, and compassion in all kids. Better with Books is a valuable resource for parents, teachers, librarians, therapists, and all caregivers who recognize the power of literature to improve young readers’ lives.

Each chapter explores a particular issue affecting preteens and teens today and includes a list of recommended related books–all published within the last decade. Recommendations are grouped by age: those appropriate for middle-grade readers and those for teens.


About Melissa Hart

Melissa’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Orion, High Country News, The Advocate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Hemispheres, Horizon Air Magazine, The Rumpus, The Normal School, Education week, and numerous other national and international publications.

She’s contributing editor at The Writer Magazine, and I teach for Southern New Hampshire University’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. You can catch me leading workshops and at writing conferences, schools, and libraries across the Pacific Northwest.

Find me on Instagram at @WildMelissaHart.com, on Twitter at @MelissaMHart, and at www.melissahart.com.



Interview Talking Points & Questions:

  • Introduction to “Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens”
  • Why do you think reading about the diverse character has so much more impact than TV or other media, on kid’s self-esteem and the way they live their life? (10:21)
  • Are any of the 500 books that have a special place in your heart? (15:17)
  • Benefits of Bibliotherapy (18:00)
  • Where can you find Melissa and her books online?



A big thank you to Melissa for joining us and for sharing her wonderful, educational book with us!


Thanks for listening to Reading with Your Kids Podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the Stitcher radio app. There you’ll find an archive of every episode of the podcast. You’ll also have an opportunity to leave a review or some stars. If you do, hugs and high fives are coming your way. Thanks for inviting us into your ears and for your support!

Have a stellar day!

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