After reading the Top Ten Adult Authors for Teens list compiled by Sean Rapacki in the Teen Perspectives feature of this issue, it occurred to me that this, perhaps, is the final frontier of lists not yet officially sanctioned by YALSA. But that got me thinking about all the lists YALSA does compile each year and the amount of work, thought, discussion, and time that goes into them. If you’re reading this and have never attended ALA’s Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting to see, for example, the Best Books selection committee in action, you may not be aware of the levels of dedication and passion these folks bring to the job. Librarians, teachers, parents, and teens, however, reap the benefits each year when these lists are announced.
At the top of this column, I mentioned—with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek—that a list of popular adult, or bestselling, picks for teens doesn’t exist. The truth is, the breadth and variety of lists compiled each year is quite remarkable. We’ve got a list of exceptionally written books for the adult market that would appeal to that literature-loving teen who aspires to be an English major (Alex). We’ve got a list of popular titles arranged by timely themes and topics to appeal to a wide range of interests (Popular Paperbacks). We’ve got a list of books for teens who don’t particularly like reading (Quick Picks). We’ve got a list of great audio renditions for those who enjoy the format or have increased comprehension through listening (Selected Audiobooks). Are you getting tired yet? I’m almost done. We’ve got a list of well-written titles representing the wide variety of quality literature being published for teens (Best Books). For the first time, we have a list of fantastic graphic novels, speaking to the growing popularity of this format (Great Graphic Novels). And, of course, there’s the cream of the crop: the Printz Award and Honor winners.
I realize that I belabored that point a bit, but if you’ve stuck with me this far, you know—if you didn’t already—that YALSA’s commitment to evaluating and promoting great literature and resources for teens has been fulfilled in grand fashion. If you’re not convinced, the Hot Spot of this issue of YALS includes all of the evidence.
As we all know, however, a lot of great literature for teens ends up on the less than desirable list of frequently challenged—or worse, banned—books. Erin Downey Howerton’s detailed description of the great success she had promoting banned books in the classroom will leave you inspired and full of ideas for how to tackle this sensitive problem. Finally, Nina Exner has offered another article containing best practices for promoting reading to teens. Her guide to conducting reader’s advisory for manga readers and helpful read-alike lists will hopefully become indispensable tools for you. Happy reading (and recommending)!