I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!
I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:
- The Diviners by Libba Bray
- Every Day by David Levithan
- Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:
- Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
- The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green
- Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
- Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
- The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
- Boy21 by Matthew Quick
- The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)
Books on my MUST READ list:
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
- I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!
I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness. 🙂
Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.
For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.
Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”
Click on the pic above to see the word cloud I created showing the most read Young Adult authors in my library in 2012. The bigger the name, the more popular the author. I pulled this information from the top 50 circulating YA titles last year. I’d like to print this out and put it up somewhere in the YA area to promote the collection and also let teens see what authors are hot right now.
Top 10 YA Titles of 2012 at Abington Free Library
- Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
- Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
- Divergent – Veronica Roth
- Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
- What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
- Legend – Marie Lu (and my personal favorite!)
- Scorch Trials – James Dashner
- Matched – Ally Condie
I held a Harry Potter Quizzo program last Wednesday for teens at my library. It was so much fun planning it, baking and buying goodies for it, writing the Quizzo questions, and watching the teens really enjoy themselves and have a great time.
Each Quizzo round was based on one of the Harry Potter books, so there were 7 rounds total with 8 questions and a bonus question each. I was rushing to fit in all the questions before our time was up! Some of the teens were Harry Potter fanatics so I really should have made the questions a lot harder than they were. These guys were so smart that they were catching me on technicalities – like the fact that in the fourth book, the person who brought Harry back to the castle after his battle with Voldemort could either be Mad Eye Moody or Barty Crouch Jr, since Barty was disguised as Mad Eye. I was floored by the things they remembered from the 4,224 pages that they read of the series. Never underestimate your teens! They will outsmart you every time.
Some other highlights from the program:
- A group of 6 friends who dressed up in Hogwarts robes and Gryffindor scarves and ties, Luna Lovegood glasses, and even brought wands. They also baked some items from the Harry Potter cookbook and shared with everyone.
- New friends were made! Score!
- Everyone gobbled up my cupcakes and hot chocolate. I think chocolate is a BIG plus at events.
- Teams gave themselves awesome names: Hermoine and the Graingers, Babbity Rabbity and the Cackling Stumps, Potterlock, and Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
- Get a big group of teens together and they are gonna chat it up. I almost lost my voice that night talking over them but I never wanted to shush them. I let them do that to each other.
- I had two wonderful volunteers who helped me to score each round. They made everything so much easier and I was so grateful!
The newest issue of VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates, Vol. 35, Iss. 3, Aug 2012) has a great article about the status of humor in YA fiction (“A Funny Thing Happened,” p. 16-18). Why doesn’t humor get more respect in the YA literary world? After all, a lot of teens might want to read something that will make them laugh rather than sob hysterically. And yet, if your main character doesn’t have cancer, or isn’t trying to survive a deadly reality competition, or doesn’t have a life-threatening addiction, then the book doesn’t get as much press or clout. Don’t get me wrong, I love these deep, intense books. But I also like when an author perfectly mixes humor with real-life problems. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie does this spectacularly.
I’ve noticed teens in my library who want to read something entertaining that will make them giggle, laugh, or ROFL. So I decided it would be a great time for a YA book display on the theme of humor. Here’s some of the books in our collection that I recommend to any teen that needs to laugh it up:
- The Hunger Pains by Stefan Petrucha
- I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
- The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
- Flush by Carl Hiaasen
- Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
- There is no Dog by Meg Rosoff
- Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito
Share your favorite funny YA books with me!
I’ve been running a program this summer called Abington READS! It’s a buddy-reading program where we match teen volunteers with beginning readers (Grades K-2). They read picture books and easy readers together. Teens are encouraged to let the children read to them. This builds children’s confidence as they start learning one of life’s most important skills.
It’s a great way to keep up children’s reading skills over the summer. Teens also feel empowered as they inspire a new generation of readers. I’ve loved doing this program and look forward doing this year after year.
Visit our photo gallery to see Abington READS in action!
The Pew Internet & American Life Project calls Millennial teens “networked learners.” Growing up in the digital age has altered the way they learn. The report says that teens are (my notes in the indented bullets):
- More self-directed and less dependent on top-down instructions
- more independent and forward-thinking
- willing to try new technology
- groan when assignments have a long list of instructions
- want more freedom in learning and in styles of presenting their learning
- more independent and forward-thinking
- Better arrayed to capture new information inputs
- used to new technology arriving constantly
- aware of the many multifaceted opinions on varying subjects
- aware of the massive amount of information that is created everyday, but they may not be great at sorting, analyzing, or interpreting it all
- More reliant on feedback and response
- numerous methods of communication (email, text, cell phone, etc) make the feedback process easier/faster
- have a hard time editing oneself, especially with the advent of editing technology such as spell and grammar check in Microsoft Word
- social networks are built on this
- More attuned to group outreach and group knowledge
- studying in groups
- look at crowd-sourced ratings of products online (starred ratings, customer reviews, Yelp.com, etc.)
- the collective writing of Wikipedia entries
- More open to cross-discipline insights, creating their own “tagged” taxonomies
- hyperlinks enable one to make connections among all kinds of topics
- Social networking sites that allow users to post their own tags for books, movies, etc
- non-linear media and learning experiences
- More oriented toward people being their own individual nodes of production
- self-publishing (blogs, twitter, etc) and the downfall of giant publishers and editors who are the “gatekeepers”
- create music, art, video, etc through easy-to-use computer software
- easier ways to start something new (a charity, a business, a website, etc)
Taken from Evaluating Teen Services and Programs by Sarah Flowers