WSIRN Ep 50: Growing up with the help of a good book with Leigh Collazo

I’m delighted to introduce today’s guest, Leigh Collazo. Leigh is a school librarian who serves children from over 30 different countries at an international school in China. Today she tells me all about why the middle school years are her favorite when it comes to finding the right books for the right readers. If you have kids, or have ever been a kid, this episode is for you.

What Should I Read Next #50: Growing up with the help of a good book with Leigh Collazo
Episode 2 of our Reading For A Lifetime series is about encouraging middle school and young adult kids to indulge in great books, and Leigh has a LOT of wisdom to share on that topic. After all, it’s her job! But it doesn’t matter what age you are—this episode is inspiring for anyone with young readers, or pre-teens, or teens, or who’s ever been any of those ages. Happy listening!

What Should I Read Next #50: Growing up with the help of a good book with Leigh Collazo

Make sure to check out all of Leigh’s incredible bookish resources on her blog Mrs. ReaderPants, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Books discussed in this episode: 

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IT, by Stephen King
Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
Roots, Haley
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier
Rollergirl, by Victoria Jamieson
Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova
Bad Island, by Doug TenNapel
Ghostopolis, by Doug TenNapel
The Naruto series, by Masashi Kishimoto
The Bleach series, by Tite Kubo
The Selection series, by Kiera Cass
Friends for Life, by Andrew Norriss
Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness
The Bookshop on the Corner, by Jenny Colgan
A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
The Storyteller, by Antonia Michaelis
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Also mentioned:
Leigh’s “What’s Your Genre?” quiz on Mrs. ReaderPants


Leave A Comment
  1. Megan Miller says:

    My daughter is only eight months old. Already we love reading books together! She loves “helping” to turn the page. This series is building my anticipation of years to come! Thanks for the wonderful recommendations!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I was so excited to hear her recommendations, particularly the last three. And YES, more realistic fiction graphic novels for teen guys. My son was a voracious reader right through 14, and we just haven’t found his sweet spot since. It’s so great to hear recommendations that might help bring back his love of reading!

  3. Tracy G says:

    I have a 7th grade daughter and would LOVE to share that genre quiz that was mentioned in this episode. She’s reluctant to broaden her horizons beyond fantasy and I’d like her to see that she might like other options as well. Would Leigh be willing to share? Really enjoyed this episode. I might even pick up some YA books that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

  4. Maria says:

    I taught English in Suzhou for 6 weeks in college and it was SO EXCITING to hear your guest there. The book choices were great (I keep forgetting about the Chaos Walking trilogy.) Thanks so much for these episodes. I am a homeschooling mom so I walk the fine line of school librarian and mom.

  5. Leslie says:

    Oops! I think you accidentally linked to wrong book for The Bookshop on the Corner. I read the one you were describing and I believe it was not the one by Rebecca Raisin but the one by Jenny Colgan.

  6. Katie says:

    MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! I am a middle school Science teacher and many people will tell me when I am at the store getting items for science labs, tell me I was crazy to teach middle school. In my opinion I think people that teach the little kids Pre-K through 3rd, are crazy to me! =) All teachers have where they like to teach.
    We have library each week, with two wonderful Liberians. I also teach 6-8th reading and we read novels along with the big literature book. They LOVE the novels and not using the “school book”.

  7. Cheralaine Cole-Johnson says:

    Sooo excited to hear you mention the Patrick Ness books! I have many stories of putting The Knife into the hands of young men who said they don’t like reading (including my son-in-law), and having them coming back and begging for the next book. They are wonderful!

  8. Jane Norriss says:

    So pleased to hear that Friends for Live by Andrew Norriss is popular. The Costa Children’s Book Award Judges in the UK said: “Funny, clever, beautifully written – it perfectly describes the transforming power of friendship.”
    It is an important book and enjoyed by all ages and ideal for Book Groups. There are Discussion Questions and Teacher’s Study Notes available – the links to them are on my website:
    Wonderful to hear you fostering happy young readers!

  9. Kate says:

    LOVED this episode! I grew up in Southeast Asia in the 70s and spent a lot of time in the libraries at my international school so Leigh’s experience feels very familiar to me. I also have an MLIS (though sadly have not been able to work in the library field), and thought her ideas for helping the kids find stuff to read were brilliant. I’m excited to check out some of her recs!

  10. Debi Morton says:

    This is a question for Leigh and Anne, and anyone else who may have a suggestion. My oldest granddaughter is 12, and her passion is dance, especially ballet. Next Saturday she will dance two different parts in the local Nutcracker performance, and she can’t wait. Can you recommend any books, preferably biographies, but even fiction, about dancers for this age group? Her dad is a pastor, and she attends a Christian school, so no themes that are too mature for the age. I’ve been fortunate with her same-age cousin whose passion is gymnastics to be able to get the books by Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, but I just don’t know any of the same type books about dancers. Help!

  11. Debi Morton says:

    Thanks, Leslie. They do look charming, but maybe a bit young for her. However, the “Skating Shoes” one looks perfect for her 8-year-old sister who loves to ice skate. So I may get that one for her. And I’ll see if my dancer has read the others.

  12. Claire says:

    I got Salt To The Sea for my 12 year old son after hearing it recommended. My husband and I are pretty liberal in what we allow in terms of books, but after reading this first, we both agreed it was a bit much for him. There is a girl who is pregnant as a result of rape by a soldier as one instance. Here’s my qualification: There are times for things to be teachable moments, you certainly can’t deny history, but just as you wouldn’t ask a child to carry something too heavy for them, some themes in this book might be too heavy for certain kids or certain ages. I’d advise parental preview of this one.

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