Monday, July 28, 2008

Best Books for YA 2009

One of the reasons I enjoy ALA Annual and Midwinter is the inclusion of YALSA sessions. Yes I am an academic librarian, but ACRL does not offer the diversity of children's literature programming, actually, they don't offer childrens literature sessions at all, during their conferences. I am charged with juvenile and young adult collection development, ALA Annual and Midwinter Meetings provide me great opportunity to see what's new. This is especially true with the Best Books for Young Adult nomination program. My favorite, the teen session where young adults provide their insights to titles currently being considered for the award, was held on Sunday, June 29th, in Anaheim.

A group of invited young adult readers gather at the front of the room and are given opportunity to present their views and recommendations, positive or negative, to the audience and panel. The students are charged with the task of presenting reasoning opposed to a summation of the title discussed. As we progress through the list one section at a time, students gather at microphones to await their turn. Accompanying the opinion pieces are power point slides depicting the book cover, title, and author. Comments were concise and illustrated an enviabile depth and bredth of understanding, as well as a love for reading.

A quick perusal of the list showed I had read, and formed a personal opinion on, fewer titles than normal. Among those titles were The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Debby Harry Sings in French, The Last Exit to Normal, Compound, My Most Excellent Year, How to Build a House, and How Not to be Popular. I belatedly recognized some titles when they showed the book I remembered seeing the cover art. Several of the teens mentioned cover art in their comments, even to the extent of noting sometimes you can tell a book by it's cover, while other times it is horribly misleading. For the first time, this year a few were completely unknown to me.

Here is a short within the list of titles most frequently discussed, including both positive and negative comments from the participating teens:
  • Airman, by Eoin Colfer
  • Undercover, by Beth Kephart
  • The Host, by Stephanie Myer
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson
  • Climbing the Stairs, by Padma Venkatraman
  • Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr
  • How Not to be Popular, by Jennifer Lynn Ziegler

I will be checking this list against the catalog soon. It is always interesting to learn how many of the titles are represented in the juvenile collection.

An annotated list of the 2009 nominations is available on Members Only section of the YALSA website. An updated nominations list, sans annotations, is available with the Best Books section of the YALSA site (titles nominated). This list was updated on June 6, 2008, prior to the Best Books Nominations session held at ALA Annual in Anaheim.

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