“In November of 2015, School Library Journalreleased a poll to investigate what professionals in the field would call their “Top 100 Must-Have YA titles.” The survey received 274 responses; of those who identified themselves, 29 percent work in a public library and 43 percent in a school library (18 percent in a high school library, 12 percent in a middle school library, four percent in an elementary school library, and nine percent in another type of school library). While opinions varied on what constitutes a young adult book, it’s clear that both genre fiction and contemporary works have made significant contributions to the corpus of titles marketed to teen readers.
[Mary’s note: I immediately remembered reading the entire Dark Forces series as a kid as soon as I saw these photos! I had forgotten them, but remembered reading all these fun books, with some mild scariness, that I grabbed from the library!]
“THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE BOOKS we read as kids that stick with us, regardless of whether they were particularly good. These days, I couldn’t tell you what was important about most of the canonical texts I read freshman year of college, let alone the plot of the light-read detective novel I picked up last summer at the beach. But somehow I can recall, with vivid detail, scenes from nearly every trashy preteen book series I devoured in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Yes, that includes The Nancy Drew Files and Sweet Valley High and The Baby-Sitters Club, all of which no doubt many women my age remember with a fierce fondness. But it also includes Sharon Dennis Wyeth’s short-lived Pen Pals series, about a quartet of roommates at an all-girls boarding school who strike up a correspondence with a group of boys, and Eve Becker’s fantasy-driven Abracadabra books, which chronicle the adventures of Dawn, a 13-year-old who suddenly gains magical powers. In particular, my drug of choice one long, hot summer were the Dark Forces books, a packaged series of occult-based young-adult horror that made me feel—crucially, at the age of 11—like I was getting away with something naughty.
I’m certain I don’t remember these long out-of-print series so well because they were works of genius. To the contrary, the storylines and writing were of relatively low nutritional value, as these things go.
We are passing on another Reader’s Advisory question, and a few suggestions in case this one comes up for you. If you have suggestions, please share them below!
“I have a tricky readers’ advisory quest. I’ve been asked by a parent to recommend some books (by tonight!!!) for a defiant 14yo boy who reads on a 12yo level. He dislikes reading, prefers nonfiction, and has Asperger’s. His parents are going to require him to write a book report. It sounds like she wants something like the Bernstein Bears’ books – but for teens (!) They have not let him read or watch Hunger Games or the like, but he has been allowed to watch/read Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.
She wants a book on why he shouldn’t defy / lie / resist / etc. She is not finding anything but parenting books on dealing with defiant children/teens.
I’ve explained books that focus on “change your ways or look what horrible things will happen” are difficult to find for his age group and that I’m going to give her a wide range of books to look at that perhaps will get them talking about relevant issues. Tricky also since he prefers nonfiction *and* I need to stay away from edgier books for the older YA audience.
CMLE members: this is a library person looking for suggestions. She found a few already, posted below; but if you have others, post them to the comments!
“Once a year I ask the collective wisdom if they’ve come across any donor-conceived characters in YA or MG literature in their past year of reading since one person (me) can’t possibly read everything!
I’m wondering if any of you have come across any more. Donor-conceived people are those conceived with sperm, egg, or embryo donation, usually to single mothers by choice, gay parents, or those with fertility struggles in heterosexual families who can’t use their own gametes to conceive. I am interested in how identity as a donor-conceived teen or tween is represented in YA or MG literature.
A library person was recently asking for suggestions for audiobooks; so we are passing on the responses for your own thoughts for your collections!
“What’s your favorite YA audiobook? I’m looking for suggestions of good books, but also great narration.
I am asking for both personal and professional reasons. I have started listening to YA audiobooks in the teen room when we’re not crazy busy. The patrons like it, and a good number of them drift to the CD section now. I am also planning a booklist and display called “Now Hear This” with books and their audio. Thanks in advance.”