Posts Tagged ‘Resources’


YALSA-BK, or YALSA Book Discussions, is a moderated mailing list, part of the ALA Mailing List Service.  It is attached to YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), which is a division of the ALA.  A subscription to the mailing list gives access to an open forum about young adult reading and literature.  The discussion focuses on issues relating to Young Adult Reading, and includes topics such as:

  • Award nominations (Best Books for Young Adults, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers);
  • Discussions about specific titles;
  • Requests for suggestions;
  • Book recommendations and book lists;
  • News of upcoming events or important happenings in the world of YA reading.

Members include professionals in the field of young adult literature (librarians, teachers, etc.), parents, and young adults themselves.  At the time this post was written, there were 3157 subscribers.  That’s a big conversation!  The archives are available for browsing and date back as far as 1988.  They are handy for those who don’t want to subscribe, or would like to know more about the kind of conversations taking place before subscribing.  For those who would like to read more about mailing lists in general, the ALA Mailing List Service has provided a helpful and readable introduction.  On the YALSA wiki I found an entry titled “Booklists from YALSA-BK”, in which many of the booklists that have appeared on the mailing list have been usefully compiled.  Some examples include: “Body Image Booklist”, “International Books”, “Music Themed Books”, and “Romance for Boys”.  These booklists are put together by subscribers, and reflect the reading interests and habits of individuals across the community.  YALSA-BK is a fantastic resource for librarians.  Subscribing will connect you with others working with or interested in teen reading.  Reading the list will keep you up-to-date and in-the-know, and contributing to the discussions provides you with an opportunity to voice your suggestions, ideas, questions, and enthusiasm for YA literature.


The Classics

I just want to thank everyone for a great discussion Tuesday night!  I really enjoyed researching, preparing and presenting my seminar – there are so many interesting things to think about in terms of teen lit and “the classics”.

Although they’re already on the course blog, I decided to post my references and resources here as well.  The book I couldn’t remember the name of that has to do with connecting YA Lit with The Classics is Sara K. Herz’ From Hinton to Hamlet.  🙂

Oh….and some of you may enjoy reading this wonderful essay about everyone’s favourite character from the most emotionally impactful piece of classic literature I know I’ve ever read!! (sarcasm? what sarcasm??):

“Is Heathcliff a Vampire?” by T.L. Stone

Bachelder, Linda, Patricia Kelly, Donald Kenney and Robert Small. “Young Adult Literature: Looking Backward: Trying to Find the Classic Young Adult Novel.” The English Journal 69.6 (1980): 86-89. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 10 2009. <;

 Best Books for Young Adults.  Ed. Holly Koelling. Chicago: ALA, 2007.

Reed, Arthea J.S. Comics to Classics: A Guide to Books for Teens and Preteens.  Newark, Del.: International Reading Association, 1988.

 Brooks, Bruce. “Holden at Sixteen.” The Horn Book 80.3 (2004): 353-7. LibraryLit. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 11, 2009. <;

 “Classic Novels (In Haiku).” Wellington City Libraries. 16 February 2009. <;

 Crowe, Chris. “Young Adult Literature: The Problem with YA Literature.” The English Journal 90.3 (2001): 146-150. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 10 2009 <;

 Gallo, Don, Ted Hipple and Jennifer L. Claiborne. “Bold Books for Teenagers: The Best Young Adult Novels of All Time, or “The Chocolate War” One More Time.” The English Journal94.3 (2005): 99-102. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 12 2009. <;

 Gallo, Donald R. “How Classics Create an Aliterate Society.” The English Journal 90.3 (2001): 33-39. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 10 2009. <;  

 Herz, Sarah K., and Donald R. Gallo. From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges Between Young Adult Literature and the Classics. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2005.

 Hipple, Ted and Amy B. Maupin. “What’s Good about the Best?” The English Journal 90.3 (2001): 40-42. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 12 2009. <;

 Hipple, Ted. “It’s the THAT, Teacher.” The English Journal 86.3 (1997): 15-17. JSTOR. Western Libraries, London, ON. February 12 2009. <;

 Koelling, Holly. Classic Connections: Turning Teens on to Great Literature. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.

 “Top 20 Classic Books for Teenagers.” Connect With Your Teens Through Pop Culture and Technology. 16 February 2009. <;

 Williams, Linda. “Summer Belongs in the Hands of the Students: Celebrating Choice in School Reading Lists.” VOYA 26 (2003): 368-71. February 12 2009 < VOYASummerReadingBelongs.pdf >

Professional Resources

I examined two reader’s advisory guides for my report on professional resources.  The first, Crossing Boundaries with Children’s Books, appealed to me because of its stated goal to “promote international understanding through children’s literature”.  The second, Reality Rules!: A Guide to Teen Nonfiction Reading Interests caught my attention because I know very little about nonfiction for teens beyond our thus far limited discussions in class.

 Crossing Boundaries with Children’s Books. Ed. Doris Gebel. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2006.

 This resource claims that it will serve as “an important tool for exploring stories that will help children understand our differences while demonstrating our common humanity.”  A noble cause, I think.  Aimed at librarians and teachers, the book provides information about international books (read: outside of the United Sates) written for children 0-14.  I was disappointed that there wasn’t a companion volume for young adults/teens.  The book itself is set up like most reader’s advisory resources.  Chapters are broken down according to countries or regions (“700 books representing 73 nations”), entries are annotated with plot summaries, reviews, and recommended audiences, and contact information is supplied for authors and publishers.  “Author Spotlights” highlight significant authors – award winners, those with popular followings, or the editors’ special favourites.  Titles were selected based on “literary and artistic quality, worthy and up-to-date treatment of people and their cultures, interesting presentations of information specific to a country other than the United States, unique quality of illustrations, and appropriateness for readers aged 0-14”.  This criteria seems logical, but I wonder exactly who it is that has the great honour of determining how to measure the literary or artistic quality of these books and their “treatment of people and their cultures”?  Unless the judges are experts on the literature, people, and culture of each country and region, isn’t there a danger that the selections were made based on nationally subjective views of those literatures, peoples and cultures?  To avoid this, I imagine they must have corresponded with “people in the know” (Librarians? Authors? Teachers? Publishers?) from each country and region.  I hope so.  I like the idea of international cooperation for the sake of international literature exchange.  

Overall, this book is a handy resource for locating international children’s literature.  It is a great idea, but I would like to see a companion volume for teen material.  I’d be very interested to know what kind of teen materials are available in different countries and regions around the world.  I think this would be a great idea for a website.  I am imagining some kind of collaborative web resource for use by librarians, teachers, etc. around the world, with a focus on increasing awareness of the global variety of YA materials.  Anyone know if such a thing already exists?

 Fraser, Elizabeth. Reality Rules!: A Guide to Teen Nonfiction Reading Interests. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

 This reader’s advisory resource is from the same publishing company responsible for the amazing Genreflecting series.  I love the set up of these books.  Everything is so well organized.  Information is easy to locate, the additional materials (such as definitions, history of the genre or theme, critical essays) are insightful, entertaining, and wonderfully helpful for anyone venturing into unfamiliar territory. 

The blurb on the back of this book explains that: “Nonfiction has become the preferred genre for many teen readers, both male and female.”  I’ve heard this elsewhere.  I’m beginning to think I should take a greater interest in nonfiction.  This book would be a great place for me to begin.  It has entries for over 500 titles (for young adults grade 6-12), and it contains notes on classics, award winners, reading levels, read-alikes, and titles that especially appeal to boys and reluctant readers, or are appropriate for book groups.  I was really interested in how the text divides nonfiction.  A diehard fiction reader, “Nonfiction” seemed like one big blob to me – how do you begin separating titles and identifying readers’ particular interests?  This book makes it look rather straightforward.  They divide nonfiction like so:

  • Part 1: Nonfiction Genres – True Adventure; True Crime
  • Part 2: Life Stories – Memoirs and Autobiographies; Biography
  • Part 3: Nonfiction Subject Interests – History; Science, Math, and the Environment; Sports; All About You; How To; The Arts; Understanding and Changing the World

If library school has confirmed anything about my personality, it is that I worship tidy little lists and organized piles.  Everything has its place!  Somehow I doubt that dividing nonfiction material in practice will be quite as simple as it looks on paper.  My point is, this book at least gives me an idea of where to begin! 

Along with the usual suspects (annotated entries, indexes of author and title, additional resources, etc.), the book has two additional sections particularly useful for Nonfiction: “Consider Starting with…” and “Fiction Read-alike”.  These are provided at end of each chapter.  “Consider Starting with…” lists popular and highly accessible titles from the chapter that represent great starting points for people who would like more information about a certain genre.  “Fiction Read-Alikes” offers additional possibilities for readers interested in particular genres, themes, or subjects. 

And finally, if you are concerned about the currency of this book, the Genreflecting series is available online in the form of a subscription to database called “The Reader’s Advisor Online”:  For a price, of course.  And, unfortunately, neither Western Libraries nor the LPL seem to have a subscription.  Has anyone had access to it before?  I’d love to know what it’s like!

The Horn Book Magazine

When I went in search of material for my report on Professional or Scholarly Journals, I decided to begin with the journal display shelf at the GRC. Most of the items on the shelf look like standard magazines. They say: “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  The fact is it is impossible not to. We’ve discussed this in class. Whether we are looking at books, magazines, a journal, or any other reading material, covers play a huge role in attracting our attention and drawing our interest. Knowing this, I am happy to admit that my decision to pick up, flip through, and ultimately choose The Horn Book Magazine (“About Books for Children and Young Adults”) for my review was largely based on the fact that it is a very attractive publication. Smaller than a standard magazine or journal, The Horn Book Magazine is printed on thick, creamy paper, it has gorgeous illustrations, and the font has an old-fashioned, type-written appearance. It even smells delicious!

Inside, the journal contains thought-provoking articles about such topics as the history, the present and the future of children and teen publishing, current events shaping the industry, and interviews with popular and up-and-coming authors. A major feature of the January/February 2009 issue was their list of the best books of last year: “Horn Book Fanfare: Our choices for the best books of 2008”. The reviews of the chosen books included plot summaries, critical analyses of the books, and audience recommendations. Each review was accompanied by a black and white image of the book’s cover. The issue also included a list of the books that won 2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and a “Foreign Correspondence” section featuring an article about Canadian author Michael Kusugak by Toronto librarian Joanne Schwartz.

The second half of the journal was taken up by book reviews. I was very impressed by their quality. They were concise but also very perceptive. I felt that I could trust the reviewers’ opinions.

The journal conveys a sense of confidence … superiority, even. Take, for example, the mocking tone of the farcical list of “Bestsellers” making up the final page of the journal. Number 1 was “Like I’d Lie to Kids: A Memoir” by James Frey: “The author of the controversial “A Million Little Pieces” tells the “true” story of his teenage years.” Number 10 was “Endr: Book 4 of the Inheritance Trilogy” by Christopher Paolini: “The young author of a popular dragon fantasy series learns the importance of planning ahead.” I was impressed by The Horn Book Magazine, but even so as I read I felt somewhat excluded by the tone, the appearance…the entire package. Maybe excluded isn’t the best word. I felt like I was a public school kid visiting an affluent private school, rich in history. Was I allowing my imagination to run a little wild? Intrigued, I visited The Horn Book website to learn more about the history of the publication. It turns out that The Horn Book has been around since 1924. It was founded by Bertha Mahoney Miller, the owner of a Massachusetts’s children’s bookshop (the first of its kind in the U.S.A.), “to herald the best in children’s literature.” (This noble history somehow seems to support my sense of the magazine’s pomposity.) In their words, “The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide are the most distinguished journals in the field of children’s and young adult literature”. They describe The Horn Book Magazine as “[i]ndependent, opinionated, and stylish” and “essential for everyone who cares about children’s and young adult literature. Our articles are lively, our reviews are insightful, our editorials are always sharp.” I can’t argue with them. All discussion of the journal’s possibly arrogant tone aside, it is a great resource for critical opinions and reviews of children’s and young adult’s literature. Definitely check out the copy in the GRC (doesn’t it smell lovely??) and give the website a look:  Apparently there is also a searchable database of thousands of reviews.   I haven’t had time to check it out, but it sounds immensely useful to me!

David Macauley’s TEDTalk

In class last week, Erin presented her seminar on Picture Books for Teens.  One of the books she brought in was David Macauley’s Rome Antics.  I was so excited to see the book because I watched a TEDTalk last year with David Macauley in which he explained the process of creating the book.  (From the TED website: “David Macaulay relives the winding and sometimes surreal journey toward the completion of Rome Antics, his illustrated homage to the historic city.”)  The talk is incredibly interesting and quite funny.  He doesn’t talk about the book in terms of its audience, so the video doesn’t directly relate to our discussion about teen reading material, but I think you will find it appealing nonetheless.  Here’s the link to David Macauley’s TEDTalk:

For those who haven’t come across TED before, it is amazing!  TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is an annual conference held in California.  It’s all about encouraging great ideas, and showcasing the creativity and enthusiasm of “thinkers and doers” from around the world.  TED’s tagline is “Ideas worth spreading”.  TEDTalks are lectures given by these thinkers and doers on every topic imaginable.  You can watch them online, or download them onto your iPod (I love watching TEDTalks on the bus).    

Here’s a link to TED’s website:

And one to TEDTalks:

YA Magazines

I visited the bookstore this weekend to buy a magazine for my YA magazine review.  I have never been a devoted reader of magazines.  My experience with them is mostly limited to doctors’ offices, staff rooms, and checkout displays.  As a girl I bought the odd Tiger Beat or Big Bop.  There was never much to read inside – just a lot of glossy posters of television and movie stars, which I dutifully hung on my bedroom walls.  When I was in high-school, the covers of magazines like Seventeen, YM and even Cosmopolitan would occasionally grab me with promises of beauty, love and happiness, but they always failed to deliver anything truly meaningful.  After our discussion in class about the recent explosion of YA literature, I expected to find a similar growth and an increase in quality among teen magazines.  What I found on the shelf were the same empty products offered to my generation ten years ago.  What a disappointment.  The magazines were predominately aimed at a female audience, and focused on beauty, fashion, dating and celebrities.  There were only a handful of magazines that weren’t specifically targeting girls.  The topics included sports, video games, and toy collecting, and of these the only title I recognized was Mad.  Surely this couldn’t be it?  When I arrived home, I desperately searched the internet for alternatives.  I found a lot of the same magazines (and their close relatives) that were available at the bookstore.  It was a relief to find titles like Thrasher (a skateboarding magazine), BMX Plus! (devoted to BMX biking), and SciFi Magazine which targeted a larger audience than those aimed at ensnaring fashion and dating obsessed girls.  The London Public Library has provided links to several online magazines in the Teen section of their website, featuring topics such as music, art, games, movies, health and fitness, news and politics.  A Google search for YA Magazines produced links to libraries from all over the world that have organized lists of recommended print and online magazines for teens.  The most interesting title I found was TeenInk, an American magazine written by and for teens.  It covers every topic under the sun (entertainment, book reviews, artwork, photography, travel, school, family, friendship, politics, history, health, fitness, racism, eating disorders, etc.).  It is a fantastic resource for teens, and for anyone interested in teens’ perspectives. 

It’s a shame that the market is flooded with magazines that recycle and regurgitate the same articles, the same fashion trends, the same relationship quizzes month after month.  So many YA magazines seem to be little more than vehicles for advertising products.  In our first class we discussed the concept of YA materials as a commercial enterprise.  Teen magazines seem to me to offer overwhelming evidence in support of this argument.

Bookstore Visit:

For our first assignment, we were asked to visit the teen/young adult section of a library or bookstore and observe the space, making note of the treatment of the material, how it is accessed and by whom. I visited a large chain bookstore on a snowy Sunday afternoon. There were other customers browsing around, but the store wasn’t overly busy. This may have been because of the weather. I found the teen section at the back of the store along the main aisle, close to the “New & Hot” wall, and on the edge of the children’s section. The main aisle is filled with display tables aimed at adult readers. There were several adults browsing through the books and talking to each other. The “New & Hot” wall is an enormous display of new releases and bestsellers, and it attracted many customers who stood thumbing through books and browsing titles. The children’s section occupies an entire corner of the store, with a large open area with toys set out for children to play with, colourful cardboard shapes hanging from the ceiling, posters and displays advertising product, and low shelves and tables stacked with books. There were several families looking around the children’s section. The teen section, in comparison, consists of only three tall shelving units positioned to create a half rectangle open to the main aisle. The noise from the people in the surrounding areas was impossible to escape. The teen section was open to view, and there was very little space for teens to browse the books. I found the limited space uncomfortable and the noise of conversation distracting.

I was impressed by the amount of books available for teens. The arrangement of the material, however, makes browsing frustrating. A display table in front of the shelves is stacked with books and marked with a sign that read “Teen Titles”. These books aren’t in any kind of order (alphabetical, by genre) and although I recognized some new releases, there were older titles as well. The books on the three shelving units are divided into sections marked by signs including “Teen Essentials & Award Winners”, “Teen Fiction”, “Teen Series”, “Graphic Novels 13+”, and “Teen Life Ages 13+”. Within these divisions, the books are arranged alphabetically. Most are lined up with their spines facing outward, but many are turned so that their covers are on display. The books are not divided into genres. The only non-fiction I found is in the “Teen Life Ages 13+”, and these books are all devoted to issues relating to adolescence. I didn’t see any non-fiction books about subjects such as history or politics. Many of the “Teen Essentials & Award Winners” have the company’s “Recommended” stickers on their covers. At the end of each shelving unit there are displays with more books, many of which I recognized as current popular titles. As I scanned the shelves, I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of material available and the limited organizational scheme. I thought to myself that this would be okay if I had a specific author or title in mind because the books are arranged alphabetically. But for someone who knows the type or genre of book they want, but nothing more specific, it must be tiring to have to skim through every title on display to make a good connection. I found myself judging my interest based on the covers. This worked well for some books (a dragon on the cover usually indicates fantasy), but not all. I would have appreciated a more thoughtful arrangement.

There is a very new-looking computer terminal inside the teen section, for use by employees and customers. The computer allows access to the company’s catalogue, and gives information about product such as price, quantity in stock, reviews, and ordering information. The terminal is outfitted with a credit card slot so that customers can are able to order product not available in the store without going to the cash area. To one side of the teen section there is a rack with merchandise relating to Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, including t-shirts, posters, buttons, stickers, and key-chains. Other than this display, there are no other kinds of media for sale in the teen section. At the front of the store there is a large area devoted to music and there are racks of movies for sale near to the cash area, but there is no teen-specific media area. In the children’s section, there is a display of c.d.’s and dvd’s for children. The computer terminal with its credit card slot and the display of Twilight merchandise was a clear reminder of the store’s main purpose: to sell product. It’s easy to ignore the fact that this company is first and foremost a commercial enterprise. Remembering this, I began to think about how and why the books in the teen section were chosen, and the many other titles that didn’t make the cut. I noticed several classic teen reads missing from the shelves, and I wondered if this was because the copies were sold out or if the company saw a bigger profit in more recently published, more massively appealing books. My intention is not to pass judgment. Rather, I think it’s important to remember that bookstores are not fully representative of the wealth of material available. The same must be said of libraries. One collection can’t house every published book. Decisions (tough ones!) about what to stock will always have to be made.

I was alone for most of the time I spent in the teen section, which was about thirty minutes. All of the other visitors to the section were adults. On a Sunday afternoon, I expected to see more teenagers browsing in the section. I did notice, however, evidence of customers having browsed the area. Books had been pulled out and not properly re-shelved, and the alphabetical order was often disrupted. Of course, I can’t say whether this was caused by teen customers. I worked at a bookstore in another city, and the teen section there was similar, if slightly more spacious. My experience there was that teens, adults, and even younger kids enjoyed browsing the teen section. Many times we would find a group of teens sitting together leafing through books, discussing them, and searching for the next title in a series. With so many books on offer, covering such a variety of topics, this never surprised me. There was always something available to interest every customer.